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Full text of "The great poets of Italy [microform] : in prose and verse including a condensation in rhyme of Dante's Divine comedy and a critical introductory review of Italian poets and poetry from mediaeval to modern times"

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CJhe 

Qreat Qoets Ql Xtaly 

in Prose and Verse 

Including a condensation in Rhyme of 
DANTE'S DIVINE COMEDY 

■nd 

A Critical Introductory Rtvjew of 
Italian Pocti and Poetry 

from 

MEDIAEVAL TO MODERN TIMES 



Thomas Devey Jermyn Farwer, D.C.L. 



TORONTO: 

WILLIAM BRIGOS 

1516 



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CapurlcM, Culdl, UU, br 
THOMAS DBVBV IBKMVN FARMBR 



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The Author has cntlfavourcd in this work to 
adhere strictly to an •.■ntire originality of design, 
arrangi-nifnt and phraseology, in pht^iing the lead- 
ing events in the lives of the great Italian authors 
included and the discussion of their poems be o^-e 
the reader. Of course in a work of thi.s kind one 
must get more or less of one's actual data and the 
necessary bare facts and records from former 
volumes on ihe same subject, however original 
he may be in the marshalling of his incidents and 
the expressing of his ideas. Under this category 
he has to acknowlctlgc the assistance received from 
many scholarly articles under different titles in 
the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopa;dia Hrit- 
annica. from Mr. H. F. Gary's Life and Vision of 
Dante, from a very Mistructivc and helpful volume 
by Mr. William Everett entitled "The Italian Poets 
since Dante." and from Mr. J. H. Wiffen's transla- 
tion of the " Gerusalemme Liberata" and his "Life 
of Tasso." The works of two modern women 
writers on Italian Literature. Florence Trail and 
Marie L. Egerton Castle, have also been of help in 
furnishing references and data for the sketches 
and for the following review. 



Pkkf 

P.\HT 



*• V] 



CONTENTS 



Pkefack and Introductorv Rkvtkw 
Taut I. Dante and tiik Divink Qomki.v 
n. Petrarca. the Himanist 
lir. ARrosTo: T7ie Dklantx. Fihposo 

IV. MicIIAEI, AncELO, the ^rANV-SIDED 

(Genius 

\'. Tasso: Tin: Jkkisai.em Demvkred 

VI. Alfieri, the Reviver of the Drama 

Vn. Leiipardi. Poet. Scholar and Phil- 
osopher .... 

VIII. The Vision of Dante 

General Index . 



PACE 

<) 



6 1 
87 

".^ 
'3.1 
169 

'93 

225 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



PAGE 

Dante *9 

Petrarch "' 

Ariosto °7 

Michael Angew "3 

Tasso '33 

Alheri '^ 

Leoparoi '93 



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the lit* 

been r 



PREFACE 



Some time ago the perhaps too ambitious idea sug- 
gested itself to me to write " The Lives of the Poets," 
a cosmopolitan work embracing many names, memoirs 
and countries. I felt that with our modern and rapid 
means of communication and transportation, with the 
vast amount of world travel and interchange of lan- 
guage and ideas between the scholars and literary men 
and women of the different nations of the Earth occur- 
ring to-day (or at least until temporarily arrested by 
the present great international cataclysm), the poet 
and the poetical biographer should be able to say with 
Wesley of old, " The World is my parish." I felt, too, 
that the only work that claims to-day that all-embracing 
title, that of the famous Samuel Johnson, in spite of 
its wit, its scholarship, its many classical allusions and 
the literary value that it once possessed, has long since 
been regarded as obsolete as a book of reference and 
9 



PREFACE. 

is now looked upon more as a relic and a curiosity of 
the early days of our learning and language than as 
an authority on even the British poets. But not only 
was it narrowed down to the British poets alone, it is 
now universally admitted that the great lexicographer, 
scholar and man of letters though he undoubtedly was, 
was too contracted in his ideas and in the scope of his 
work to embrace at all our very best poets— Chaucer, 
Ben Jonson, Spenser. Marlowe, Sidney, Shakspeare 
and other illustrious English names, many of whom 
only lived a few years before some of those he did 
include, that he was too bigotted to accord to several 
of those he touched upon only to damn with faint 
praise the notice and the fame that they deserved 
including Gay, Prior, and the gentle Gray, th^^t he 
was too malignant to do justice to Milton or Swift, 
and too prone to consign the polished and high-minded 
Pope to the realms of vulgarity and irreligion. So 
wanting, too, was the great Doctor in prescience, and in 
judgment of the literary tastes and requirements of 
the future, that he had to pad his selection of " lives " 
with a long panegyric on the virtues of his one-time 
boon companion in misery, the poor, weak, ill-born, 
dissolute Savage and to raise to a position among his 
10 






PREFACE, 
suggested immortals the names and works 'of many 
worse than mediocrities. These have long since been 
forgotten and would never have been known at all 
even to the generation after Johnson himself but for 
the place their famous recorder and apologist gave 
them m his then wonderful anthology. Others could 
be mentioned as well, but who ever hears now of 
Pomfret, Dorset, Stepney, Walsh, Smith, Duke, King 
Hughes, Yalden, Hammon.l, Somerville, or Broome, 
for each of whom Johnson predicted fame and immor- 
tality? Of course due allowance must be made to this 
famous biographer of the olden times for the many 
handicaps he laboured under. It must be remem- 
bered that he was over seventy years of age when he 
started on the work which proved him such a false 
vaticinator. He had not the assistance of the num- 
erous authorities and books of reference that the 
biographer of to-day enjoys. Our vocabulary then num- 
bered its words in tens where we to-day count them in 
hundreds and the arts of writing, printing and pub- 
bshing were heavy and cumbersome in comparison 
with our own. But a greater obstacle to an impartial 
and accurate judgment was the fact that Johnson was 
such an ingrained Tory and High Churchman that his 
11 



PREFACE. 



very naRire prevented him from seeing any patriotism 
in a Whig or any righteousness in either Romanism 
or Dissent. 

I am aware that many other able scholars since 
Johnson have given the world encyclopedias, antholo- 
gies and biographical groups embracing many famous 
poets but I have failed to see any of these that treat 
the subject of poets and poetry from a world stand- 
point in our own language or from a b"oader view 
than that of their own land and countrymen. And so 
I decided in spite of many personal drawbacks and 
disadvantages — lack of early literary training and deep 
classical scholarship, scant knowledge of foreign 
tongues, only limited travel and research, a mind 
doubtless warped and grooved by a long professional 
life, with its best years gone, and other handicaps that 
could be easily enumerated — to embark on this pon- 
derous work, just because of a love of poetry and the I 
poets, a keen appetite to read and take in, and I hope 
to remember, all or most of what I have gadiered up 
egarding them in my travels and researches, and that 
the time to pursue the subject was my own. I realized I 
of course that there were great difficulties in the way I 
of selection, of arrangement, of nationality, of length | 
12 



PREFACE. 

of the work and of each memoir, and so forth, and 
that no matter how I succeeded in meeting or over- 
coming all these, there would at best be many short- 
commgs, much to criticize, and perhaps a deal to 
condemn There were some fundamental principles 
which I felt I must go by and adbpt to start with, if 
I desired to avoid getting beyond my depth in a sea 
of impossibility and a maze of difficuky ar.d distrac- 
tion One of these was not to attempt to go back to 
the dim ages of the classic or mythologic past and the 
mists and conjectures of antiquity. Too abstruse, too 
scholarly, too unfathomable, too long and tiresome, in 
fact qurte impossible would have been any attempt of 
mine with my limited time and literary attainments, 
or, I venture to assert, of any poetical biographer, to 
nc lude all these in a work of the character I am now 
oudming. Another rule I laid down was to include 
no hvmg author however famous-these can wait their 
turn to be impartially judged when "after life's fitful 
fever they sleep we i." To include them would not 
only have made the work too long but also might have 
raised questions and comparisons better left in abey- 
ance till that great and just arbiter, posterity, can 
accord to each his merited deserts. 
13 



J*, 
I'll 



PREFACE. 

I also early decided that it would be quite impossible 
and more than an ordinary life's task for the most 
facile scholar and writer (attributes which I make no 
pretense to claim myself) to include memoirs of all 
the famous poets even of Britain nor more than a very 
few of the other dominions and nationalities — only 
specimens as it were or perhaps landmarks of the 
latter, although I of course intended to select as far as 
I could, sketches of the best and foremost of each 
outside country's poets for my work. At the shortest 
I do not expect to get through with less than a hundred 
fairly long memoirs and even at that I may be charged 
with being tedious. Bearing in mind my first-men- 
tioned resolution not to delve too far back into the 
early vaguenesses and uncertainties of any country's 
literary history nor behind what we can rely on with 
reasonable and recorded certainty, T decided that 
Chaucer should be my starting point with the English 
poets. He marks the " parting of t'le ways " as it 
were between those of our old writers who, on the 
one hand, continued to write in alternate Latin and 
French and those who, on the other hand, awakening 
to a realization of their own country's worth and 
importance, regarded the English tongue henceforth 
14 



PREFACE. 
a5 "sufficient- in which to crystalize their ideas and 
wnte the.r verse. Likewise when I came to decide 
upon what I should include in my selection, of those 
great sources of poetic an., literary inspiration to 
wh,ch we owe so much, the Italian poets, though limited 
to half a dozen or so subjects I had not much diffi- 
culty m deciding to begin with Dante. True I was 
go.ng back in doing this several generations 'in time 
from my English starting-point but the great author 
of the Divina Commedia" stands out so pre-emin- 
ently as the poetical landmark of his time not only 
among the poets of Italy but of all other modem civil- 
ized lands, that it is only fitting that any work which 
presumes to deal with the great poets of later Italy 
niust start with him, who. while not the father of 
ah toetry, was unquestionably the father of the second 
poet.c world. True, again, there had arisen among the 
rned-aevahsts prior to Dante many gifted and polished 
a .an poets. The Trovatori of Proven.e had invaded 
taly m the previous century and the Sicilian bards 
headed and encouraged by their King Frederick the 
Second and his gifted son Enzo, had extended their 
fame mto the north as master lyrists and sonneteers 
and as the authors of some of the most catching love 
15 



PREFACE. 

ditties. The Bolognese, Guido Guinicelli, whose song, 
" The Nature of Love," Longfellow six centuries after- 
wards so finely translated, may be mentioned as a 
leader among these pre-Dantean amatory poets. The 
Florentine, Cavalcanti, also shone lustrously here with 
his nobility of race, his fine personality, and his unin- 
terrupted flow of scholarly and cultured expression. 
Dante's own master. Brunette Latini, also took a high 
place among these as a composer of allegoric verse, 
and the Tuscan, Lapo Gianni, had won merited praise in 
his efforts to adopt in his love songs the native as against 
the Provencal manii.r and style. But all these, in spite 
of their many charmo and gifts, may be said to have 
merely toyed, eaOi in his turn, with the newly-evolved 
tongue, when we compare their puny efforts with the 
wonderful and varied outpourings and originality of 
the master mind, the real creator of the Italian lan- 
guage, with a brief account of whose accomplishments 
and career I am opening this little volume. 

I did not in-lude in this anthology the great Boccac- 
cio because I f ek, while admitting that he was undoubt- 
edly a great poet, that we owe to him the " Ottava- 
rima," one of our own Byron's favourite forms of 
stanza, that his " Filostrato " and his " Teseide " were 
16 



PREFACE, 
adopted by Chaucer as the models for his "Troilus 
and Creseide" and that from some of his works our 
great Shalcspeare himself took hints for and founded 
several of his dramas, that notwithstanding all this he 
and his greatest work " The Decameron," his hundred 
nov.;ls in one, the first sp. drnen we have of modern 
Itehan fiction, more properly come within the scope 
of a work on prose and prose writers. I think with 
th.s omission and explanation I can fairly lay claim 
to havmg covered in the work which I here present 
a reasonably full though perhaps somewhat superficial 
review of Italian poets and poetry from the end of 
the thirteenth to the middle of the nineteenth century 
Perhaps I may take the libe.ty of going a little further 
than this and of claiming that including my brief ref- 
erence later on in this article to some modem names 
not mcluded in this work I have at least dealt with 
all the great landmark, of Italian verse from the period 
at which my memoirs begin down to the present era 
of contemporary Italian poetry. This will be better 
understood when I explain that during this appar- 
ency long period of time extending over nearly six 
full centuries, there w.re three intervals in which both 
literature and poetry in Italy were in a quiescent, if not 
17 



PREFACE. 



in an entirely decadent state. Between Dante and 
Petrarch Pistoja the exiled lawyer-poet had extolled 
in beautiful sonnets the virtues of Sclvaggio Vergiolese 
and had also consoled Dante himself on the passing 
of Beatrice. But between the period of Petrarch and 
Boccaccio (who were close contemporaries) on the one 
hand (1304-1375) and that of Ariosto on the other 
( 1474-1533) no brilliant lights had shone in the poetic 
firmament of Italy. Outside the weak :-omances of 
chivalry and the worthy efforts of Lorenzo de Medici 
(1448-1492) on behalf of both drama and pastoral 
poetry and in the saving of Italian letters from the 
deluge of " humanism," no truly valuable addition had 
been made in that long space (,'. time to her litera- 
ture. True, Pulci (143 1-1490) had figured cleverly 
in burlesque and, in the Florentine patois in which he 
wrote, had made light of the religion of his country. 
Boiardo (1434-1494), the father of romantic poetry, 
had written and Berni (1490-1535), the satirist, had 
revised the " Orlando Innamorato." The latter too had 
fitted the ottava rima to that caustic style in which he 
wrote and whicn Byron was afterwards so effectively 
to adopt in " Don Juan," but nothing more extensive 
nor more worthy had illumined the lyric page of Italy 






18 



1*1 



PREFACE. 

during this extended interval, although Italian drama 
had perhaps shared a somewhat better fate. 

Then again, after the era of Tasso (1544-1594) 
occurred another and a much longer period ,f languor 
and literary ineptitude, stretching over nea. ly two hun- 
dred years. In this long, c'dll interval those Italians 
who followed letters and poetry had to satisfy them- 
selves with the conceits of the Delia Cruscans the 
artificiahties of the Secentismo (Empirics) and the 
tnflmgs and weak effusions of the Arcadians (Classi- 
cists), the languid, puerile efforts of Marini, Guarini 
Tassoni, Casti, with an occasional refresning or enliv- 
enmg outburst from such artists as Filicaia (1642- 
1707) and Melastasio (1698-1782), Soon after Tasso 
Ch,abrera had written elegant epitaphs that our own 
Wordsworth has gracefully translated. Long after 
h.m Forfguerra (1674-1736) philosophized in verse, 
the priest Frugoni (1692-1768) deluged Italy with his 
chnstenmg, wedding and ordination odes and Varano 
(1705-1788) imitated the Divine Comedy.* But there 
was no life nor freshness in any of these stilted out- 
Pounngs. From this lethargic state the Italian lettered 

rpview. *.urporaiea into and forming a part of thii 

19 



PREFACE. 

world was at length aroused to theatric and poetic life 
by the original* and powerful tragedies of Alfieri. 

Thirdly, after Alfieri's time ( 1749-1803) and down 
to the advent of Leopardi (1798-1837) there will not 
unfortunately be found in Italian poetry any, c; at 
least more than -, great outstanding figure, lyric, 
epic, romantic or dramatic. Monti (1754-1838), the 
dramatic imitator of Da.ite and in turn the panegyrist 
of both republican and monarchical rulers and institu- 
tions, certainly could lay no claim to such a title nor 
could the Venetian Foscolo (1778-1837), who in later 
life r-sided in England, great scholar, romanticist and 
1 idical that he was. Manzoni, the Milanese novelist 
and hymnologist, who lived to as late as 1873, undoubt- 
edly won a high place in his day especially with his 
ode on the death of Napoleon and as the most 
brilliant romai.ticist of the times. HaH. I sufficient 
space here to allow me to include another name in my 
fc-roup of the greatest of Italian poets Allesandro 
Manzoni would surely be my next choice. His trage- 
dies opened up the romantic era in Italian literature 
and his "Fifth of May" was declared by as great 

tkrir?2llSi'^l',°-i?:£5Pi'"'V'. ?"il= »»' InwnUon of plot, bat in 

?U^" tllr^m. " *"»'•"<>»• •» «oiiu»o3 to u, .,"^ 

20 



PREFACE, 
favour of »!,. B- V'^ry, that decided me n 

s.'"' tiro?;;"' r r •"'^"^ ""■ ^-'^ -- 

immortal,. None . Z ^ T'"'' """"'^ '"« 
ereat n««. ! ""''* """"« "P '<> the 

nT oXr °' '""" *■'"" •" """^ - quality 

sll lo, h'''""'' '" "°^'''^' '•"^"'"'^ - =>a- 
ynst with whose hterary career I have cIo«d .his 

21 



PREFACE. 



may be briefly mentioned in closing my review. The 
Tyrolese Prati (1814-1884), who was poet laureate at 
Turin, had drawn attention to his own province by the 
spontaneity and boldness of his odes, some of which 
Mr. Howells has translated, and which like those of 
his master Manzoni were imbued with a religious vein. 
Ippolito Pindemonte ( 1753-1828), revolutionist that he 
was, like his two fam ~> contemporaries Monti and 
Foscolo, translated the OJyssey and produced a fine 
tragedy " Arninius." Others among this band known 
as "the patriots" were Giambattista Niccolini (1782- 
1861), who in his unrivalled drama "Arnaldo da 
Brescia " dealt a blow at Romanism and the papacy, 
and Silvio Pellico (1788-1854), who acquired fame as 
a tragedian. It is interesting to note that most of the 
latter's works were composed in an Austrian prison 
He wrote altogether twelve tragedies, the first " Fran- 
cesca da Rimini " being his best. Giuseppe Giu.sti 
( I783~i854) also excelled among this group as a satir- 
ist. And Italy in the middle of the last century had 
as well several noted female poets. Caterina Ferrucci 
of Nardi (1803-1887) united the delicate and the 
sublime in her Petrarchian canzone entitled " The 
Flowers and the Stars." Another Caterina, surnamed 
22 



PREFACE. 
Brenzoni (i8,3.,856), of Verona exalted the praise 
of astral splendours and heavenly harmonies in her 
forceful lyric entitled "The Heavens." But nearly 
all these writers since Leopardi aimed at popularity 
and sentimentality only and were gradually again 
degenerating their country's verse into weakness and 
arffioahty. From this it was fortunately rescued, this 
t.me by Giosue Carducci (,83^1907), who, scom- 
mg popularity and turning once more to classicism, 
brought the poetry of Italy back again to that aristo- 
cratic mtellectuality under which it had always thriven 
best. But ,t must be granted that Carducci, great 
eader m tahan letters that he was, was admired more 
for h,s pohshed speech and ripe learning than for any 
native spontaneous poetic charm that he possessed 

Havmg thus completed my survey of the Italian 
field of poetical biography and gleaned as I passed 
what I regarded as its richest and best product, having 
exhausted all the space I felt I could apportion to 
that part of my larger work and having gotten well 
advanced with many of the memoirs of our own poets 
and several more of the foreign ones. I only then began 
to reahze that I had a task ahead of me which to 
accomplish properly and carefully would involve not 
23 



PREFACE. 

months but years. I felt that to do my whole subject 
justice would take much more time, travel and research 
than I had at first anticipated, with the possibility, con- 
sidering the uncertainty of our time here and the length 
of a work that will, when finished, require several 
volumes to hold it, of its never being completed at all. 
And so the idea occurred to me of issuing as a separx^e 
work, and under a title of its own, what now appear!^ 
here, without waiting to finish the larger and more 
exhaustive undertaking. It will be observed that I 
have closed the biographical sketches of each subject 
included in this little volume, as I am also doing with 
those of the others in my larger work, with some dedi- 
catory thoughts of my own in verse. I trust these 
trifling poetic efforts, each fitted in a different stanzaic 
framework and accompanied by a portrait of the sub- 
ject of the sketch, even if they cannot add any kudos 
to the mighty names whose lives and works they are 
intended to very unworthily outline, will at least not 
detract from their renown and may be of some assist- 
ance in the study of the careers of these great masters 
of Italian verse to whom and to whose country our 
own poetry owes so much. 
And how much it does owe ! In the achievements of 
24 



PREFACE, 
such men as Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio Italy was 
the first of the European nations to herald the dawn of 
he Renaissance, to lead in the awakening from that 

humamty had pmed before the fourteenth century- 
Mo the consciousness of individual liberty i She it 

of mankmd from the dark and cloistered pursuits of 
the middle ages and by the installation of a more 
human literature to impress on them the wealth of 
their own minds and the importance of human life 

he wast r' ''^ ''''''''"'' °^ ''•^ ---'- 
She was the first proclaimer of a new birth to liberty 

to the rest of Europe by the creation of a fresh spiri- 
tual atmosphere of culture and intellectual freedom 
which was destined in future ages to form the very 
Iife-breath of European civilization ! 

A visit to these glorious old haunts of the great 
Italian masters-Florence. Ferrara. Rome, Ravenna 
Pisa, Arqua, Sorrento and the rest-soon brings a reali- 
zation of how and why. besides the record of her 
glorious achievements just reU.ed. so many of our own 
poets turned towards Italy for their inspiration. There 
poetry seems to spring like magic from everything 
25 



li 



l.ii; 

i 



PREFACE. 

about one, sky and sea, castle and dungeon, mountain 
and river, olive grove and vineyard. I have already 
spoken of the Italian inspiration of Chaucer, Shak- 
speare and Byron. Surrey and Wyatt, who brought us 
the sonnet, who perfected our system of versification 
and corrected our national poetic taste, were the leaders 
of "those courtly makers who travelled in Italy and 
there tasted the sweet and stately measures and style 
of Italian poetry, the novices newly crept out of the 
schools of Dante, Petrarch and Ariosto." Spenser and 
Marlowe drank deeply of her life-giving weUs of 
thought. Milton, a century later Gray, and two cen- 
turies later Robert Browning, Wordsworth, Scott and 
Rogers, all returned from Italy with more breadth and 
culture and tuned to higher flights of poetic eflort. 
Crashaw. Cowley's "divine" protege, had in Eng- 
land's Commonwealth days sought and found a haven 
among the cloisters of Italy. She only seemed able to 
supply that balm which his broken spirit needed, when 
everything around him— home, country, friends- 
seemed engulfed in hopeless darkness and despair. 
The halo of her literature and her song and the charm 
of her sky and scenery, drew Shelley, Keats, Clough. 
Landor and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, not only to 
26 



PREFACE, 
live but also to die in Italy and the works of all these 
are redolent with her sweets and her sublimity! Her 
recent entrance, too. into our great struggle against 
the threatened world domination of the Teuton, and 
he heroic part she is taking in that titanic contest 
for national and individual liberty, must appeal to 
us alK This in itself alone should help to turn the 
thought of every modern '^.nglish-speaking scholar and 
reader towards an interest in and a study of Italy's 
glorious past in literature and poetry. 

In the work now presented I have ventured to dis- 
cuss and dwell upon great men, mighty themes, world- 
moving episodes and the very fountain springs of 
modern literature. In addition to what the work pur- 
ports to be-a summary of Italian poets and poetry- 
♦md I have, perhaps unconsciously, blended into it 
various comments upon and references to many of our 
English poets and their writings, and have here and 
there made comparisons between these and their con- 
temporary Italian authors. 

Considering the vastness of the field and subject 
matter invaded my efforts have no doubt been some- 
what superficial and cursoiy and I fear quite inexhaus- 
t.ve. But with the time and space available to me at 
27 



PREFACE, 
present I realized that I dare not venture deeper into 
this particular province of the subject, however inter- 
esting and instructive its further pursuit might be. 
My object and desire in producing the present work 
have been to do so in a scholarly and elevated tone and 
yet in such simple and concise language und phrase- 
ology that even those unversed in the classic can com- 
prehend it. I trust that however unworthy the result 
as a whole I have at least in a measure accomplished 
this aim. 

"V „ „ T. D. T. F. 

KiNGSLow," Oakville, Canada, 

October, 1916. 



28 



.*;« 




^'•^!V r,^ ALICHICKI 



I 



PART I. 
DANTE 



29 



DANTE 



Dante Alighieri, born in Florence in May, 1265* Died 
at Ravenna, September 14th, ijii. 

This, admittedly the greatest of Italian, and perhaps 
of modern world poets, was bom at Florence in May, 
1*65. In many respects he resembles, in both char- 
acter and work, the English Miltcn, who was to follow 
him nearly four hundred years afterwards. Like Mil- 
ton, he came of good family, was scholarly and fond of 
music. Like him he felt "the slings and arrows of 
outrageous fortune," although he took his discomfi- 
ture with a better grace and less austerity of life. In 
Dante the adversities of his early and middle life 
turned in old age into scorn and invective ; in Milton 
into grave and desponding melancholy. But, most like 
of all to the great Englishman, to Dante was revealed 
in a remarkable degree all the mysteries of the spirit 
world^and the inviolable punishments and rewards 

'The dalM mentioned In the h.,;. n of thi. and the ««,., '.i. 

^^i^r.^^^:^t£. ^o:r:HSo:? 

All the other, can b. ..,„„,d with re.Mn.blo certainty Vo be c„°rMt 
31 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



meted out to mankind for the deeds done in the flesh. 
This marked distinction must be noted, however, that 
in giving to the world these revelations the two poets 
adopted entirely different procedures. In Dante's 
account he is himself the chief actor and narrator ; in 
Milton's he is but the relator of the experience of 
others. 

It would be both wearisome to the reader and out 
of place in a brief memoir like this to attempt to give 
an account of the bitter feuds between Guelph and 
Ghibelline and later between the Whites and the Blacks 
(Bianchi and Neri) the two factions into which the 
victorious Guelphs, after subduing their opponents, 
formed themselves, which divided Florence at the time 
Dante wrote and which had done so from time to time 
for fifty years before his birth. Suffice it to say that 
his participation in the politics and the civil wars of 
his country, first as a Guelph, then as a White, after 
the Guelphs had suppressed the Ghibellines, and the 
attitude of independence if not of open hostility which 
he assumed to the then-reigning Pope Boniface led to 
his banishment from his native city, and to his becom- 
ing and remaining a wanderer and an exile till his 
death at Ravenna in 132 1. He sprang from the 
32 



DANTE. 

knightly family of Cacciaguida. and his second or sur- 
name of Alighieri also came from a Rolden wing on 
the coat of arms of that family, Dante's father died 
when he was a child. Of his mother nothing i, known. 
The learned Brunetto Latini was his teacher and under 
him the youth soon acquired a knowledge of polite 
literature and all those attainments which were within 
reach of the noble Florentines of his day. It was the 
custom of all the educated young men of Dantcs 
period and country and station in life to write verse, 
usually of an amatory nature, and to do so successfully 
some affinity or ideal of the opposite sex was selected. 
At nine years of age the poet tells us he met Beatrice, 
a beautiful young girl, the daughter of one Portinari. 
about the sa.Me age as himself. For .sixteen Ncars, 
although it is said he only actually saw her once or 
twice in life and she knew little of him and married 
another,* he poured forth a constant stream of worship 
and spiritual devotion to this ideal voung woman, the 
remoteness of the object of his passion only making it 
burn the brighter, and after her death he immortalized 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

her in the Paradise of his " Divina Commedia. " In 
spite of the great grief he displayed at her passing, 
he did not wait long to seek other feminine solace and 
married into the Donati family about a year after- 
wards (1291). It is recorded that this latter union 
was marred by the ill-temper of the wife. Possibly 
this was occasioned by the Donati being political ene- 
mies of the poet and through his consigning their 
Chief, Corso, in the " Divina Commedia " to an igno- 
minious place in purgatory. Viewing the case from 
a present-day standpoint it is easy to conceive that, 
independently of this, most wives would object to being 
continually reminded, as Gemma no doubt was, of the 
many virtues and excellencies of the departed Beatrice. 
Dante had a numerous offspring and two of his sons. 
Pietro and Jacopo, were themselves poets. The gift 
was evidently further handed down through many gen- 
erations for we read that as late as the end of the fif- 
teenth century a descendant of this son Pietro, known 
as Dante the 3rd, was an elegant poet living in affluence 
at Verona and that the Florentines, anxious to make 
amends for their ill-treatment of his great ancestor, 
besought this representative of the family, but to no 
purpose, to come and reside at Florence, His only 
34 



DANTE, 
daughter. Reatrice, named no doubt after his spirit- -I 
affinity became a nun at Ravenna and it is on reco.. 
that ,n her old age the Florentine Republic, as a small 
an>end for the shameful treatment meted out to her 
father, made her a present through Boccaccio of ten 
fiorms of gold. 

A few words here descriptive of some of Dante's 
wandenngs and vicissitudes after Florence cast him 
out may not be out of place. Previously attached to 
the G„elph facfon. he met at Arez^o, Busone da 
Gubb,o. an exiled Ghibelline, a man of letters and 
versed ,n Italian poetry. The two became friends 
and largely through his influence Dante deeded now 
to throw in his lot with his old enemies. From this 
on he may be ranked as a Ghibelline. But it was only 
because he saw in his own party no hope of a cure for 
t e,r petty quarrels and dissensions and that he hoped 
(though the hope was not in his time at least to be 

reahzed) that out of the other party might arise a 
pol cy and a leader which would make for a united 
Jtaly, that he made the change. 

faitd rf °" """""^ '^ *^ ^"-^^-"-^ having 

f .led, Dante ,s next found at Padua, then at Mugello 

at a meetmg in the Abbey of Santa Gaudenzio. In 

35 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

1307 he took refuge with Morello Malaspina in Luni- 
giana, who, though Dante had formerly l)een an enemy, 
received the poet hospitably. Next he is found under 
the roof of the mighty Lord of Verona, Can Grande. 
to whom he refers in the XVlIth canto of Paradise as 

" That mortal who was ,it his birth imprest 
So strongly froin his star that of his deeds 
The nations shall take note." 

About this time Henry of Luxemburg became 
Emperor and Dante seems to have pinned his faitli 
to him as the deliverer of his country. From his 
former attitude as a suppliant he appears now to have 
assumed a defiant tone towards Florence and called 
on the new monarch to crush the usur])ing rulers of 
his native city. But Henry was weak and vacillating; 
he died without accomplishing anything, so that little 
but disappointment came to Dante of these bright 
hopes of delivery and reinstatement. He journeyed 
to Paris and the Low Countries. Some authorities sa> 
he went as far as Germany and even to England. 
There are records extant rhat he visited Porciain) 
Castle in the valley of the Casentino, that he took tem- 
porary refuge in the Urbinian Mountains and that m 
36 



DANTE. 

a wild and lofty Avellanian monastery he coniposed 
about th,s time a large part of his " Divine Comedy." 
H,s forn,er Arez^ian friend. Jiusone da Gubbio, also 
now entertained the hon,eless pen i„ ,he Castle of 
UlmoUaro. Udive and the Friuli also lay claim to hi, 
.avmg sojourned and written in both these places i lis 
last refuge was with the poet Polenta at Ravenna : 

•■ Situate on the coast where Po dcseend. 
To rest i„ Ocean with his sequent streams " 

where, having lived tl,ree years and beconn'ng heart- 
iToken over the failure of an expedition o„ which V- 
l-atron had sent hin, to Venice. Dante sickened . • 
-lied Ml either July or September, ,32, 

Dante was noted for his eloquence. an<l this gift 
-ay m a measure be said to have brought about his 
eath almost in the prime of life. The Bourishin. 
\ enet,ans were about to declare war on Ravenna and 
Gu.do da Polenta, his host, knew of no one more fluent 
:" °''="°^>' '° P'^^'d his cause before the warlike Doge 
hence the selection of Dante for the task which ended 
.^0 disastrously for the poet. His funeral was an impos- 
ing one. His body, adorned with all the trappings of 
poetry, .vas borne on a f.nteral car accompanied bv 

n 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



the leading citizens through the principal streets of 
Ravenna and laid in a marble coffin over which the 
Lord of Ravenna himself pronounced the funeral 
oration. Many epitaphs were called forth by the 
demise of the great poet-exile : the best of them com- 
posed by his friend Giovanni di V'irgilio. Florence 
had in 1316 made overtures to the outcast to return 
hut they contained humiliating conditions which Dante 
would not consider. After his death, realizing what 
they had lost, the Florentines made frantic but vain 
efforts to have his remains brought home. A monument 
to him was erected in his native city in the Church of 
Santa Croce early last century but his bones still rest 
at Raveima in the sepulchre begun by Polenta and fin- 
ished at the close of the fifteenth century by the father 
of Cardinal Benipo. Cardinal Gonzaga also caused a 
further and a most costly memorial to be erected to the 
great poet, also at Ravenna, in 1780. 

Boccaccio tells us that Dante was a man of middle 
stature, of solemn demeanour and slow walk, that lie 
usually dressed well, that he had a long face, an 
aquiline nose, full eyes, large cheek bones, and a pro- 
jecting upper lip; that his complexion was olive and 
his hair and beard thick and curled ; in short, that his 
38 



DANTE. 

appearance was so singular as to call forth the taunt 
'rem his enemies that he resembled an inhabitant of 
that hell to which he was prone to consign so many 
of them. 

Dante's chief work is of course his " Divina 
Commedia," but why he should assign to a literary 
production which is really a satirical epic the very 
contradictory title of " Comedy - it k iiard to conceive 
and has never been explained. One writer* suggests 
that it was because it began sadly and ended happily, 
and further that its author regarded X'irgil as the 
tragedian par excellence. The title " Divine " was of 
course affixed afterwards by Dante's compatriots. He 
began the task when about thirty-eight years old and 
when, after becoming satiated with military and civil 
affairs and with those ordinary efforts in both prose and 
poetry which most educated men of his day dallied 
with, he had experienced what may be termed a con- 
version of soul to higher and better aspirations in life. 
He had completed only seven cantos of the " Infe.-no " 
when his banishment took place. It is not likely, with 
all the trials and vicissitudes which followed, that the 
work would ever have been continued had not one of 



* Florence Trail. 



39 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

his protectors in exile, -Malaspina, gotten hold of the 
abandoned fragment and, recognizing its worth, urged 
his poet-gtiest to go on with the task begun under con- 
ditions so much more promising. There is no evidence 
as to how and where h*- finished it, but there is no 
doubt that the rest of the " Divina Commedia " was 
accomphshed under almost inconceivable dilticulties 
and adverse circumstances. The last two books, " Pur- 
gatory •• and •■ faiadise," certainly show a falling off 
and a taming and softening of the wild and gloomv 
imagination of the writer as depicted in his " Inferno," 
for which he seems to have taken the descent of Aeneas 
for his model. In perusing the whole work one can 
readily see. after passing on from the " Inferno," that 
the incentive to high literary effort, especially marked at 
the outset of his task, appears as the end draws nearer 
to become less pronounced. As an evidence of how 
the feeling of rhe Florentines towards Dante had 
turned in one or two generations from contempt an,i 
hatred to reverence, it may here be mentioned that in 
1373 a public allowance was made to lecturers on 
Dante's great work. Boccaccio was the first of these. 
Petrarch was also one of six learned Italians selected 
by the Archbishop of Milan in 1350 to write a com- 
40 



DANTE. 

menfnry on the " Divina Cominedia." Lectures on 
i:)ante-s works were also apijointed by other Italian 
' ities, among them Pisa, liologna and Venice. Indeed 
this revulsion in sentiment may \m said to have come 
much earlier than 1 have mentioned, for it is recorded 
that a celebrated physician, Ceno de Ascoli. was burned 
at the stake only three years after the poet's death for 
maligning Dante in some parodies on the latters verse. 
Xor is it to be wondered at that this great work should 
have e.xcited the curiosity and the deep ,«;rsonal in- 
terest of succeeding generations of Florentines when 
the incidents recorde.l in it came so nearly home to so 
many noted citizens. With the various places of tor- 
ture, of trial, or of bliss, in the spirit world assigned 
to so many well-known characters, from sovereign or 
lord, pope or cardinal, down to the ordinary citizen, 
there could hardly have been a resident of any repute' 
in Florence who had not some relative or friend, or at 
least some person great or small, in whom he had an 
interest depicted to advantage or misfortune (usually 
the latter) in Dante's weird but realistic narrative. 

It will not. I trust, be out of place to outline here a 
brief account of the great Florentine poet's wonderful 
journey, and the thrilling experiences he met with, as 
41 



IL ' 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

he passed through those three divisions into which the 
Ancient Church to which he belonged at that time 
separated, and still apportions man's future state, 
though in doing so I will be running the risk of making 
this sketch of Dante somewhat longer than the others 
included in the present volume. Beginning with his 
straying from the beaten path in a dense forest which 
the poet means to typify as the Cares of the World, 
and his hindrance from escape by the three wild 
beasts of pleasure, pride and avarice, it tells of his 
meeting with Virgil. The latter is supposed to per- 
sonify philosophy;, and to have been urged by Beatrice 
to go to the lost poet's assistance. Dante is led by 
him first through hell, a vast conical-.*aped hollow 
reaching to the centre of the earth. This huge vortex 
is separated into three divisions for the reception and 
punishment of the incontinent, the brutish and mal- 
icious. The punishments are apparently on a graded 
scale of which the last are the most terrible, loathsome 
and ignominious. He first witnesses the fate of the 
apathetic, the unbaptized, the carnally minded, the 
gluttonous, the prodigal and the arrogant. They then 
enter the City of Dis or Hades where heretics are 
confined in red-hot tombs and next descend to where 
42 



DANTE. 
those who have done vioknce to their neighbours are 
deluged in a river of blood. Here, too. suicides are 
converted into rude trees upon which harpies build 
their nests or are torn by female mastiffs, and thosi 
guilty of blasphemy and other like offences are tor- 
mented by continual showers of fire flakes : 

"O'er all the san.l fell slowly, wafting down 
Dilated flakes of fire as flakes of snow 
On Alpine summit when the wind is hushed," 

A little further on they encounter lirunetto Latini 

Dante's old teacher, condemned for usury, an.l next 

those who have not in life respected woman's chastity' 

*vhose punishment is to be scourged by demons, and 

then the flatterers, who are immersed in filth. Those 

guilty of simony, including Pope Nicholas V. are now 

encountered fixed head-downward, their feet tortured 

with fire. Fortune tellers and astrologers are next 

met with their heads set face backwards so that they 

cannot see to walk, and the embezzlers of public funds 

are engulfed in boiling pitch. They then witness the 

hypocrites being borne down with the weight of leaden 

caps, mockingly lined on the outside with gold and 

Pacmg round the sixth gulf. I„ the seventh they be- 

43 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

hold robbers tormented by .ser|)ents ; in the eighth evi! 
counsellors iveloped in flames. In the ninth are met 
the scandal mongers and those guilty of heresy and 
schism, who are punished by the maiming of their 
limbs ; and in the tenth, or last gulf of this the eighth 
circle, called Malebolgc, they hear the pitiful cries of 
those condemned to etc. ..al leprosy, the alchemist, tliu 
forger, the counterfeiter and the false pretender. In 
Cocytus, the ninth, or frozen circle, the last which the 
poel and his guide vi.sit, and the most inaccessible and 
horrible of all the places of torment, are . u iined l\w 
traitors, and here, though his heart is hardened againsi 
the other sufiferers, Dante pathetically tells the sU>r\ 
of Ugolino whom he meets and who, adjudged guiltv 
of treachery, was wit'., his innocent .sons and grand- 
sons starved to death in a tower by the Pisans at the 
instigation of Archbishop Ruggieri. The poet in pass- 
ing calls down a curse on the town for its barbarous 
treatment of those innocent of the crime, in these 
scathing words : 

" O thou Pisa, shame 
Of all the people who their dwelling make 
In that fair region where the Italian voice 
Is heard, since that thy neighbours are so slack 

44 



DANTE. 

To punish, from their deep foundations rise 

Caiiraria and Gorgona and dam up 

The mouth of Arno that each soul in thee 

•May perish in the waters. What if fame 

Reported that thy castles were betrayed 

By Ugolino? yet no right hadst thou 

To stretch his children on the rack, for them, 

Hrigata. Uguccione and the pair 

()i gentle ones of whom my song hath told. 

Their tender years, thou modern Thebes, did malte 

f ncapable of guilt." 



Here he also sees Lucifer punishing in his triple pair 
of bloody jaws Juda.s. the atch betrayer of his Lord 
and Master, and Urutus and Cassius, the two other 
greatest traitors of the world. 

Relieved from the foul air that surrounds the lower 
depths, they now emerge in the grey dawn of Easter, 
into the purer atmosphere of that region: 

"In which the human soul from sinful blot 
Is purged and for ascent to heaven prepared." 

Purgatory is described by Dante as being near the 

summit of a mountain which the two poets ascend by 

a steep path. On the way up they meet some souls 

45 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

who are condemned to linger where the travellers see 
them because they repented too late in life, also 
Sordello, the great twelfth century Mantuan poet, who 
leads them into a flowery valley where are the spirits 
of many-crowned heads, hoping for, but not yet en- 
titled, to final and eternal bliss. Dante is then carried 
sleeping by Saint Lucy to the very gates of Purgator> , 
svhere he again finds Virgil waiting for him and botli 
then enter. Purgatory proper is depicted as divided 
into seven ledges or cornices, upon the first five of 
which rest the souls of those who are being cleansed 
of the sins of pride, envy, anger, indifference anil 
avarice. On the fifth cornice they are joined h\ 
Statius, the post-Augustan Epic poet of the first cen- 
tury and author of Thebais, and all three ascend to 
the sixth where the sin of gluttony is purged and 
where Forese declaims against the immodesty in dress 
of the Florentine ladies. They then pass up to tlic 
seventh cornice or ledge where unfaithful husbands 
and wives are given, through purging fire, an oppor- 
tunity of repentance. Dante himself is also forced to 
submit to the heat of this cleansing fire. The last ascent 
is now reached, which leads to the terrestrial paradise 
Here Virgil leaves Dante to be his own guide : 
4ti 



DANTE. 

Both fire;*, my son. 
The temporal und eternal, thou hast wen 
.And art arrived where of itself my ken 
No further reaches. I, with skill and art 
Thus far have drawn thee, now thy pleasure take 
For guide." 

The latter wanders on through the forest of this ter- 
restrial paradise and conies to a stream, on the oppo- 
site side of which he sees a fair lady culling flowers. 
Roth walk up the stream, a narrow one : 

" By the stream 
Three paces only were we sunderV " 

each on their own side and the lady, wh!,'-iii Jjic was 
Duchess of Tuscany, but is now Matilda, the personifi- 
cation of aflfection for the Church, explains to Dante 
that the waters which divide them are those of Lethe : 

" With power 
To take away remembrance oi o > if," 

The apocalyptic things spoken of in Ezekiel and the 
revelation of St. John are now revealed to the bewild- 
ered traveller and a dazzling and majestic car appears, 
drawn by a gryphon, the latter typical, in its union of 
the engle and the lion, of the Saviour of Mankind. 
47 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

" So beautiful 
A car in Rome ne'er graced Augustus pomp 
Or Africanus'. E'en the Sun itself 
Were poor to this." 



ndants 



the I 



are the three graces 



.\tnong the attend 
and the four cardinal virtues, all in the form of 
nymphs or virgins, and also figures representing 
Moses, St. John, St. Luke, St. Paul and the authors 
of the New Testament epistles. Beatrice, symbolical 
of revealed religion, now descends from heaven in a 
cloud of flowers and stands alongside the gryphon. 
She speaks to Dante from the other side of the stream, 
rebuking him for his worldliness. Then Matilda, his 
former fair fellow-traveller seizes him, fallen pros- 
trate from the effect of Beatrice's rebuke, and drawing 
him through the water, presents him to the four 
nymphs, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temper- 
ance, who in turn lead him to the gryphon and Bea- 
trice. The three other virgins. Faith, Hope and 
Charity, then intercede with Beatrice to shew the poet 
her second beauty. All then pass on to a high tree 
supposed to represent the Roman Empire and whose 
higher branches spread wider than the lower, contrary 
to the natural order of trees. Under this tree tlie 



DANTE. 

beautiful car drawn by the gryphon and supposed to 
symbolize the Christian Church, is struck by a shaft 
from Jove representing persecution, sprung upon by a 
hungry fox meaning heresy, feathered by an eagle 
which symbolizes the gifts of Constantine to the 
Church, and torn asunder by a dragon representing 
Mahomet. A vaunting harlot seated on an eminence 
nearby, accompanied by a giant, is also portrayed, 
supposedly to show forth respectively the baneful in- 
fluence on the Church of Pope Boniface VIII and 
Philip the Fourth of France. Lastly the whole pro- 
cession moving on arrives at the fountain from which 
.spring both the waters of Lethe and those of Eunoe, 
a stream flowing in the opposite direction, the latter 
imbued with power : 

"To bring 
Remembrance back of every good deed done." 

Thither Dante and Statius are led by Matilda at the 

request of Beatrice, and drinking, the poet returns: 

" From the most holy wave regenerate 

E'en as new plants renewed with foliage new 

Pure and made apt for mounting to the stars." 

The last part of this wonderful vision deals with 
heaven and the rewards of the blessed who inhabit it. 
i.p. 4 49 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

With Beatrice, the poet ascends from purgatory, first 
to the moon, then to Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, 
Jupiter, Saturn and the fixed stars, which are respec- 
tively the different heavens numbered from the first 
to the eighth. In all these Dante meets and converses 
with the redeemed spirits of many famous persons. 
Kinps. Saints, Martyrs, prophets and patriarchs. 
AnuMi^ them he mentions the Empress Constanza, the 
Emperor Justinian, Charles Martel, Thomas Aquinas. 
King Solomon, his own ancestor Cacciaguida and St. 
Benedict and he is even permitted to view the Christ 
and His Divine Mother. They then ascend into the 
ninth or last heaven, the " Primum Mobile," where alt 
motion and time have their roots and where : 

" Except the Soul Divine 
Place in this heaven is none. The soul divine 
V\'herein the love that ruleth o'er its orb 
li kindled, and the virtue that it sheds — " 

Here the poet is permitted to behold the divine essence 
and then he and Beatrice ascend further still to the 
Empyrean from whence they witness the final triumph 
of the souls of the blest. This is pictured as an im- 
mense white rose where myriad souls of the redeemed 
like innumerable swarms of bees sing and disport in 
50 



DANTE. 

joy amid the heavenly fragrance. Beatrice now leaves 
Dante and returns to her throne and St. Bernard takes 
her place at the poet's side. He shows him the souls 
of the saints of both the old and new testaments on 
their thrones and prays to the Virgin to give Dante 
grace to contemplate the brightness of Divine Majesty. 
Dante prays for ability to show forth the Celestial 
Glory in his verse and finally is given a glimpse of 
the Trinity and the power to comprehend all mysteries : 

"With fixed heed, suspense and motionless. 
Wondering I gazed ; and admiration still 
Was kindled as I gazed. It may not be, 
That one, who looks upon that light, can turn 
To other object, willingly, his view. 
For all the good that will may covet, there 
Is summ'd ; and all, elsewhere defective found. 
Complete." 

(I have taken this and my other quotations from the 
translation by Mr. Gary.) Dante also vividly relates 
many other experiences he encounters during this the 
third and last and, of course, the calmest and happiest 
portion of his spiritual journey. The different re- 
deemed souls the poet meets tell of the various tests 
they have passed through and of the trials they have 
51 



^ 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

endured, some of reparation made for broken vows of 
chastity, others of their martyrdom for the true faith: 
others again arranged in the figure of a majestic eagle, 
take credit for their pure administration of justice 
while on earth. 

The warriors from the crusades relate their deeds 
of valour in endeavouring to rescue the Saviour's 
tomb, while a still further assemblage tell of holy 
lives spent in retirement and contemplation. Adam, 
the great parent of mankind, relates to Dante his ex- 
periences during the Creation and the fall, when lie 
arrived in heaven, and \0i language he spoke on eartli. 
Our traveller also has some doubts removed and 
explained regarding the pardoning of broken vows, 
human redemption and the salvation of those who had 
not the opportunity of knowing and therefore could 
not believe in Christ. He hears the papal power and 
the clergy roundly condemned for neglect of true 
religion, for avarice and luxury, and the monks for 
their corrupt lives. The Florentines are pilloried too. 
for their present debasement and degeneracy, brought 
about chiefly, so Dante is informed by his ancestor 
Cacciaguida, through their co-mingling with inferior 
neighbouring races. He is told of the futility to save 
52 



DANTE. 
of mere professions of belief in Christ, and warned 
against presuming to fathom God's ways. His faith 
.s tested and approved of by Saint Peter, who at the 
.ame time bitterly denounces the grasping propensities 
of h,s successors on the papal throne. St. James ques- 
nons the poetic wayfarer on Hope; St. John on 
Char,ty, and Beatrice herself on their journey de- 
nounces the perverseness of man and the ignorance 
and avarice of the theologians and the preachers 

Dante selected the terza rima for his great work 
and was the first to introduce this stanza, at l^ 
art,st,cally, into Italian poetry. This is ihe form 
Mrs. Brownmg uses in her "Casa Guida Windows" 
S e ley. too, ve hundred years after Dante, also on 
F orentme sod. employed this form in which to crys- 
alue hose sadly-exquisice thoughts which came to 
h.m when, wandering through Cascini's Wood, near 
te junction of the tiny Mugnone with the nobler 
■no he gathered from the sporting of the approach- 
g storm with the dead Autumn leaves hurrying by 

«est Wmd. It „ay seem strange that this form 

of V rse so adapted as it is to sparkling epigram to 

sustained narrative, to minute descriptiL'tr^^:; 

53 ^ 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



satire, and to the actual portrayal of every beauty in 
both art and nature, did not long remain a favourite 
channel of poetic expression with the Italian poet^ 
who followed Dante. It seems to have been almost 
abandoned after Boccaccio used it. This was owing 
no doubt to the fact that it requires continued unity 
of thought, and that it does not permit any break-off 
without the dropping of a rhyme. N'or can it be said 
to have ever become popular for the same reasons 
with the poets of other countries, although we fre- 
quently find the Germans experimenting with it. And 
it will be observed that even Shelley, in the great Ode 
above mentioned, in order to terminate his five stanzas 
without destroying his rhyme, departs from the strict 
Dantean or ternary form and changes the two lines 
with which he completes each stanza into a couplet. 

While the remaining works of Dante are insignificant 
in comparison with his greatest effort, they are, never- 
theless, worthy of high praise. His Vita Nuova, writ- 
ten in Italian, which language he preferred to the Latin 
and used in most of his works, also overflows with 
the history and praises of Beatrice and the youthful 
ardour of its author for his ideal of young woman- 
hood. Although written mostly in prose, it is inter- 
54 



DANTE. 

spersed with sonnets, ballads and canzoni, teeming 
with tenderness and passion. This work was written 
in youth, while his Convito or Banquet, a prose theme 
composed in a philosophic vein, was produced in later 
life. The latter was never actually completed owing 
to the poefs comparatively early death but was in- 
tended as a sort of note book or running commentary 
on the "Divina Commedia" and the other works he had 
by this time completed and given to the world. Dante 
also wrote some Latin Eclogues and in the same 
tongue some learned and valuable prose productions, 
but his efforts in the Ancient classic language are 
admittedly inferior to his works in his own vernacular. 
Dante was a man of varied attainments. In addi- 
tion to the gifts of poetry and music, he was apt as a 
delmeator in pencil. He was a hater of flattery, often 
prone to sarcasm and although usually sedate and 
.sombre, could, when the occasion warrai.-:d it, rise to 
sTOrt and pleasantry. His enemies accused 'him of 
plagiarism, of copying the " Vision of Alberico " in his 
•■ Divma Commedia," a charge that has been hurled at 
the best and greatest of poets in all ages. But there was 
tele ground for this, as almost eve., country in 
Dante s time had its writer on the spiritual and the 
supernatural and other origins, besides the thrillingly 
55 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

weird story of the young nobleman of Alvito might 
just as easily have been suggested for a skeleton for 
Dante's tale. It is in reality very little distingnished 
from what one reads and hears to-day as the exper- 
ience of the modern spiritualist. It was not the bare 
idea of the journey through the spirit vorld and the 
encounters and experiences there with the various 
spirit characters and persons mentioned that gives the 
poet his great name and fame as a portrayer of the 
weird and the ghostly and the future rewards and 
punishments of mankind. Many writers before and 
after him have written upon the same subject and 
along the same lines of thought but their names and 
their works are forgotten or at least little known. It 
is not the conceptions themselves in Dante's journey 
nor the bare incidents he relates as he tells of his 
wonderful passage through the realms of spirit land 
that attract the attention and excite the admiration of 
the reader. It is the rich word painting, the choice 
imagery employed, the magnificent verbal clothing with 
which he adorns his characters and incidents and all 
the minute and varied details he enters into, which 
entitle Dante to be ranked among the greatest of 
imaginative writers of all time. 
56 






DANTE. 



TO DANTE. 
I. 
Dante ! whose deep, far-reaching mind combines 
The rarest gifts of all the Florentines ; 
Scholar and patriot, greatest far among 
Their votaries of satire and of song 
\V ho of thy fellow countrymen didst tell 
1 he future joy or doom inviolable 
U ho of thy fair, soon-sainteu Beatrice 
Didst paint in words the apotheosis. 
Great Cacciaguidan ! while I dwell on thee 
I, other bards beholding do but dimly see ' 



11. 
When for deceit at Ponte Vecchio's Gate 
Buondelmonte met the traitor's fate 
There rose in Florence strife intem'ecine, 
Th deadly feuds of Guelph and Ghibelline. 
Full fifty years before thou saw'st the light 

WhTITu^' "'"' ^''^"^ '^^'^ ''^«'«=^« fight, 
Uhich, like a wind-fann'd flame, increasing more 
Drove thee from love and poetry to war, ^ ' 

aZZ, r:' ''^ '^'""^' ^^""^ ^"<' hearth, 
And made of thee a wanderer o'er a friendless earth. 

57 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



From thy Arezzian htding-pk.e sore press'd 
Thou cam'st to Padua, Papafavi's guest, 
And in Mugello's sacred precincts found 
For a brief period a trysting ground. 
At Lunigiana to thee came the proof 
Of kind Aforello's friendship 'neath that roof 
Where white Carrara's marble peaks descend 
And with the foam of Spezzia's billows blend 
And now the Castle of the famed Can Grande 
A sanctuary gives to thee in far Verona's land. 



IV. 

Where the swift Arno, goodly river springs 
And Porciano spreads her sheltering wings, 
Where Faggiola's turrets proudly rise 
Amid Urbino's peaks to greet the skies. 
The purlieus of Bologna's learned halls, 
The Netherlands and Paris' classic walls. 
With Gubbio 'neath Colmollaro's towers,' 
At Lucca too, thou mused away the hour's. 
Weird Avellana boasts thy monkish cell. 
Each gave the exile shelter, none a place to d 
58 



DANTE. 



Rut though a wanderer, well hast thou unfurl'd 
Ihe hidden mysteries of the spirit world. 
How real, how impressive dost thou tell 
The tortures of a never-eriing hell, 
The toils of those whose only hope of elorv 
Must lead through lingering, cleansing purgatory. 
Unending joy where heavens' summits rise 
Where hallowed Beatrice dwells in Paradise 
\\hat an unmatched, unchallenged journey this I 
From D.S s mingled torments to the realms of bliss 



VI. 

What fates a here ! what prophecies abound ! 

What allege. , .s subtle and profound ! 

What scorn .nd praise and pity ! what despair ! 

What destmies of bad and good laid bare' 

What knowledge in its varied paths displayed' 

t-vents and persons accurately arrayed I 

How cruel falls the stroke of satire's lash - 
How anger and contempt reveal and flash' 
What forms and features vividly expressed 
Of those who wail below or hymn their heavenly rest ! 
59 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



VII. 

O mighty master of Italian verse, 
Deep-branded with the outlaw's cruel curse I 
Few were the years that passed ere Florence wept, 
Her poet dead, whom others loved and kept. 
Ravenna gave at length a home, thy grave 
Where leads Corsini to the Adrian wave. 
Thy name hangs on each learned tongue to-day. 
The brightest name in all that bright array. 
And suppliant Florence, though de: ed thy bier. 
Tells proudly to the World thai " Dante once lived 
here." 



60 



PART II. 
PETRARCH 



Fr 



po( 

Ar: 

the 

gre 

thai 

son: 

and 

cani 

a ri 

coul 

a sj 

brea 

at 01 

most 

ador 



PETRARCH 



Francesco Petrarca, born at Areszo, July .-oth. 1304. 
Died at Arqua, July i8th, 13^4. 

About a generation before the father of English 
poetry saw the hght in London, there was bom at 
Arezzo in Tuscany the man who was destined to be 
the reviver of learning in Italy, and one of her 
greatest poets. Not only was he to fix the rules for 
that popular form of verse now known to us as the 
sonnet, but he was to incorporate n into the very life 
and genius of Italian poetry. He was, also, on a wider 
canvas, with a larger theme, a bolder imagination, and 
a richer fancy than the fettered form of the sonnet 
couH allow, though in just as artful and complicated 
a system of rhyme, to give expression in his odes 
breathmg a lover's devotion to his Laura, of utterance 
at once the most beautiful and thrilling, as well as the 
most noble and sublime, as had ever before or since 
adorned Italian verse. He it was who was to estab- 
63 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY, 
lish in a language as perfect and mellifluous to-day as 
in his own time, the words, the phrases and the tone 
of Italian poetry, to give to it that melody of expres- 
sion, that sweetness and tenderness which, like the 
poetry of Homer of old, makes it adapt itself to music 
far more readily than does the modern poetry of any 
other country. To him were his countrymen to look 
up as their model of thought, of culture, of elegance 
and also of style. To him it was to be given to receive 
the poet's crown on that ancient Roman Capitol which 
ages before had witnessed the coronations of the Scipios 
and the Caesars, marking, as he did, the great divide 
between ancient and modern thought, the old school 
of literature and poetry and the renaissance. For 
while his illustrious predecessor Dante chose Virgil 
for his guide, and bowed to the influence of the latter's 
poetry, thus leaning towards the old school of thought, 
Petrarch from the first assumed that contempt for the 
Latin tongue which was to mark all the followers of 
the early Italian renaissance. It is true he wrote in 
Latin as well as Italian, including a long epic entitled 
" Africa," but he never aspired to or attained in the 
Latin tongue that mastery of diction and measure of 
which he came to be such a model in the Italian. 
64 



PETRARCH. 

The father of Francesco Petrarca was a Florentine 
notary who had sided with the Ghibbelines and, on the 
triumph of the Guelphs in 130. was ejected from 
Florence by the same decree which sent the great 
Dante mto banishment. Francesco Petrarca was 
therefore, born in exile, and he may well be said to 
have been expatriate for the better part of his whole 
l.fe, though his last twenty years was spent intermit- 
tently between Milan and other towns of northern 
Italy. 

It was an age in which Italy, though advancing rap- 
.dly m art and literature and science, was torn by both 
r.val factions from within, and the dread of foreign 
conquest from without, and no ruler, spiritual or tem- 
poral, seemed able to afford any relief. It was little 
to be wondered at, therefore, that amid the distractions 
and conflicts of Rome, the Church should heed the call 
which came to her from Philip the Fair of France to 
niove the papal seat for the time being at least, from 
the Eternal City to Avignon, the feautiful and classic 
capual of Provenge. Hither, to share in the security 
and tranquility promised to the Church, came also the 
head of the Petrarch family with his promising son 
shortly after the education of the latter had begun at 
'■■•■ 5 65 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

Pisa. Here, far removed from the biiter factions and 
the provincial wrangles of their own country, father 
and son could survey the situation at home from a less 
prejudiced point of view than if they were actually 
participators in the struggle. 

At the age of twenty Petrarch lost his father and the 
youth, having in the meantime passed through :he 
universities of Montpelier and Bologna, returned to 
Avignon, having also lost his patrimony through the 
dishonest management of its curator. His charm of 
manner and breeding, as well as his superior education, 
seem to have made him a favourite at the papal court 
from the first, especially with the two famous brothers 
Colonna, whose influence was willingly offered, and 
would, no doubt, have pushed the bright young 
Avignon student to the front in any profession he had 
seen fit to choose. 

Before the age of fifteen Petrarch had studied the 
humanities, in which he was afterwards to become so 
conspicuous, but he now followed his father's wishes 
in taking up the law, then the most honourable and 
lucrative of the professions, and more or less indis- 
solubly associated with the church. The boy, however. 
had no taste for the law, and an ardent love for the 
66 



PETRARCH, 
classic authors and the struggle between his natural 
desires and obedience to the will of his parent caused 
h,m many restless hours. It was but another example 
of those numerous cases, not only in Italy, but in other 
lands, where parental ambition towarxls the learned 
pro fes3>ons has almost succeeded in depriving literature 
of .ts bnghtest stars. The story has often been told, 

bu w, I hope, bear repetition, of how the elde 
Petrarch md.gnant one day at his son's neglect of his 

ej. stud.es for literature, angrily gathered togeth 
and cons,gned to the flames every classical author in 
the house. Fmally, however, yielding to the boy's 
paroxysms of grief, he allowed him to rescue the 
scorched volumes of Virgil and Cicero from destruc- 
- But the death of his father put an end to a, 

undT' u' '''' ''' ^°"' '""^ "'°"^'' "e then 

incrat!:„r ' ■" ^"^^"^ ^'"""- '° ^°"- ^'^ - 

all hii' °" r'' "'' °" '"' '"''"^ *'''"^^'f bereft of 
all hs worldly possessions, he took orders and became 

ast «1 preferment more than once, but these oppor- 

un..es he did not take advantage of. for Petrarch 

Had deeded by now that letters and scholarship w^re 

67 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

to be his avocation in life, and that neither the dry 
technicalities and quibbles of the law, nor the irksome 
and monastic duties of the priesthood, were to draw 
him from his chosen calling. Up to this time there is 
no evidence of the young scholar's devotion to or even 
inclination towards poetry, and the reader naturally 
asks how and when did the immortal spark descend 
that was to point out Francesco Petrarca as Italy's 
foremost poet of his time? The answer is wrapped up 
in the individuality of a woman, beautiful young Laura 
de Noves, whom the future poet one day saw in church 
at Avignon, when twenty-three years of age, and whom 
from the first time he beheld her he allowed to be the 
inspiration and dominating influence of his whole after 
life. The passion was not reciprocated, nor is it 
recorded that the two ever became close acquaintances, 
but this did not lessen the young poet's respectful 
ardour for the object of his spiritual devotion, and to 
her, his ideal of perfect womanhood, from his retire- 
ment among the hills and valleys of the Sorgnes, 
whither he went when he found it was hopeless to 
expect any return of his love, he poured forth his 
devotion in sonnet and in song. In our time such a 
procedure, no matter how eloquent: the song, how 
68 



PETRARCH. 

sublime the sentimem. or how choice the expression 
would no doubt cover its author, and the obje t o U 
adoranon as well, with unenviable publicity and pe 

ady or her fr.ends ever objected to Petrarch's atten- 
t.ons and h,s impassioned efforts, his new song of real 
.nd.v,dual love, rather than bring stricture or ridic; 

Itahans both high and low, that he was universall 
ccla-med as worthy of the laureate's crown. Harll 
how he describes the object of his love, in one of hi; 
-any adoring, if somewhat alliterative, passages 

•■Graceful ,he ^oved with „ore than mortal ™,e„, 
1 form an angel, and her accents won 
Upon the ear with more than human sound 
A sp,r,t heavenly, pure, a living sun 

V^='swhatI,aw,andif„omoreWe,ee„ 
Ta unbend the bow will never heal the wound," 

Jlrsr^'^" """"'"■ •"■'"■^^'^ '" -«- an other 
69 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

devoted his undivided talents, and all the soul and pas- 
sion of his life, to one especial object, and as far as 
we know one quite indifferent to his fervid attentions. 
For, outside of his worship of Laura de Noves, with 
the exception of a few patriotic odes setting forth the 
hopes and sufferings of his beautiful but ill-starred 
country, his spasmodic endeavours to arouse her sloth- 
ful and avaricious rulers to a sense of their duty, and 
what some consider his masterpiece in ithe form of an 
allegorical poem setting forth the triumphs of Love, 
Chastity, Death, Fame, Time and God, Petrarch may 
be said to have written no verse worthy of mention. 
Different and entirely opposite versions of his relation^ 
with this ravishingly delightful young woman have 
been left us by students of the great Italian poet 
whose life and works I am now briefly reviewing. 
Ahhough as many as twenty-five different scholars 
and biographers have written the life of Petrarch, all 
unite at least in conceding to her, or more properly 
speaking to the great volume of beautiful verse he 
dedicated to her, known as his " Canzoniere," the 
poet's title to permanent fame. This, they tell us, 
coupled of course with his scholarly and successful 
efforts to revive the learning of his time and country, 
70 



PETRARCH. 



has made the name of Petrarch immortal, not only in 
Italy, but in the whole lettered world, not his learned 
Latin treatises, his many triumphs in the fields of 
politics, travel and philosophy, or his success as a 
theologian or a diplomat. But how differently do some 
of these approach the subject of Petrarch's adoration I 
Lord Woodhouslce denies that Laura was ever mar- 
ried, and contends that up to the day of her death it 
was Petrarch's intention, if he could, to make her his 
wife. This learned writer, in support of his conten- 
tion, refers to the absence in all Petrarch's poetry of 
any reference to her nuptial state, and to its tenor 
pointing all the other way. On the other hand, M. de 
Sade, writing towards the end of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, credits Laura with being the wife of one of his 
ancestors, Hugh by name, and the mother of eleven 
children. Again a third class of critics, among whom 
is Gibbon, argue that Laura had no real existence, that 
the poet's love was metaphysical only, and its object 
merely a " shadowy nymph," or in other words, a myth. 
This much may be said in support of this last conten- 
tion, that all his written adoration of Laura is more 
general than individual. He never refers to any of her 
own special beauties of person or character, and what 
71 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

he says of her might well be said by any ardent poetic 
lover of the lady of his heart. 

But Petrarch's life was in many other respects an 
active one. He was always ambitious of personal glory 
and craved the highest honours in the gift of his coun- 
try and its rulers. Called more than once from his 
mountain seclusion by those in power who had heard 
of and desired to use his great talents and scholarship, 
he was often the chosen mediator between many war- 
ring States and princes, and even acted the part of 
Italian envoy at foreign courts. He took part in the new 
crusade of Pope John XXIInd, and with the approval 
of his sovereign. King Robert of Naples, went to 
Rome, was drawn in state through the Forum, and 
crowned by the senate of the Eternal City. After his 
return to Vaucluse from this glorious literary triumph 
he frequently visited Italy again in his endeavours to 
inspire those in authority to do something to alleviate 
his distracted country and bring about union among 
the striving factions. It was about this time that 
Petrarch produced those patriotic odes to Colonna, to 
Rienzi, and to the princes of Italy, whose wonderful 
declamatory harmony and lofty appeals to the spirit 
of Italian nationality, proved that their author was, 
72 



PETRAKCH 

on occa.ion, capable of rising to something more sub- 
stantial than ideal ami abstract love ditties. 

Boccaccio, a generation younger than Petrarch, and 
inclined in his early life to profligacy and frivolity, 
sought and valued the friendship of the elder man,' 
U'came steadied by his example, and learned from his 
erudition and his mastery of letters. The younger 
poet, influential at Florence, brought to Petrarch an 
offer of restoration to the rights of citizenship and the 
rectorship of the newly-founded Florentine University, 
but the latter, preferring. literary leisure, declined the 
generous offer. Tyrants as well as liberators sought 
after and were jealous of his ?ood offices, and it is 
regretfully to be recorded of Petrarch that, in spite of 
his frequent and continued outbursts on behalf of free- 
dom, so great was his pride and his love of self-glori- 
fication and stately aggrandizement, that he allowed 
himself to become the ally of the worst tyrants of 
his day. 

In 1341 he had visited Parma as the guest of the 
tyrant Azzo di Correggio, who was then installing him- 
self as lord, after driving out the Scaligers, his former 
masters. Petrarch, always restless and dissatisfied, had 
tired of the monotony of Vaucluse, and decided to 
73 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

make his home for the future alternately between its 
romantic haunts and the glitter of court life at Parma. 
This he did until after the death of Laura and most of 
the friends of his early life. 

About 1353 he abandoned both Parma and Vaucluse 
and settled at Milan under the patronage of the Vis- 
contis, who had, long before this, acquired as well the 
Correggian sovereignty over the Parmese. Here, he 
not only interested himself in the matrimonial alliances 
of the Viscontis, lent his subtle persuasions to advance 
their cause with rival houses, and acted for them at the 
courts of France and Germany, and as arbitrator 
between Venice and Genoa, but also openly sympa- 
thized with and participated in many of their crimes 
and atrocities. Nor, in spite of the apparent spiritu- 
ality of his devotion to Laura de Noves, was his private 
life all that it should have been, at least two illegitimate 
offspring being charged to his loose amours. 

But the death of Laura in 1348 seems to have made 
a great change in his manner of life, although it did not 
lessen very much his love of the applause of the great. 
He had taken part in the Rienzi revolution at Rome 
in J347 against his former friends the Colonnas, and 
the same year had built a house at Parma with the 
74 






.1 ■■ 



PETRARCH. 

idea of living there the quiet but honoured life of a 
poet, and surrounding himself with a few old and 
tried friends. Several of these died, however, about 
the same time as Laura, and so all his plans were 
changed. He became morose and religious. He gave 
up poetry and devoted himself again to humanistic 
pursuits. His theory of humanism was that the orator 
and the poet should educate themselves so as to pre- 
sent to the world as human beings, perfect and per- 
sonified forms of beautiful prose and verse. And in 
classing Petrarch as a humanist we must not confuse 
that term with the title given to the classical scholars 
of the two following centuries, or with the radical 
movement of thought which they encouraged under 
that name. Petrarch's humanism recognized and in 
part inculcated Christianity, that of Pontano and Valla 
and the other later so-called humanists, rebelling 
against ecclesiastical authority, was destined to weaken 
morality and encourage scepticism and indiilerence to 
good and evil. Self culture and self effectuation in 
unison with revealed religion were the watchword and 
the aim of the Petrarchan cult of humanism, while the 
professors of the later and more revolutionary move- 
ment, venerating antiquity above everything else, and 
75 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

strongly tainted with pedantry, were to make light of 
Christianity and an open parade of paganism. 

And while I am dwelling upon the nobility of 
Petrarch's humanism, I may here refer to other laud- 
able pursuits which it brought in its train. He studied 
philosophy and ethics, and decked out many precept, 
of morality with all the graces of pure and ornate lan- 
guage. Such subjects as the " Remedies of Fortune - 
"True Wisdom," "The Contempt of the World' 
Government." "Avarice," "His own Ignorance o, 
H.mself and Others, ■ were all beautifully treated b^ 
hmi, and although these writings would not be receiver 
seriously in the present age of moral and philosophical 
d«cuss«>n, they were no doubt useful and interesting 
at the tinie. 

He was a great searcher, too, after the works of 
antiquity. ,n an age when Italian libraries were sparsely 
endowed and the works and authenticity of the classic 
writers often lost or hopelessly confounded. He spent 
much time in endeavouring to gather together the pro- 
ductions of such authors as IJvy, Varro, Quintilian aiul 
<-.cero, and also in the study of the Greek masters 

The last twenty years of the great scholar and poets 
hfe were otherwise uneventful. He moved to the tolc 
76 



PETRARCH. 

hamlet of Arqua for more solitude and reflection in 
1369, retained the close friendship and fellow-student- 
ship of Boccaccio for the rest of his life, and was 
found dead in his library in 1374. 

In spite of all I have said of the choiceness and 

purity of Petrarch's language, the perfection of his 

metre, and that inborn melody by which a musical 

esonance comes from the very pronunciation of his 

words, there is a certain sameness in all his poetry 

which makes it monotonous, and there is, perhaps, too 

much generality in his descriptions, both of persons 

and inanimate nature. One can detect all through a 

similarity of phrase and idea which his mastery of 

rhyme and arrangement does not altogether hide. 

There is, too, in many of his works a tendency to 

ornate rhetoric and stylistic trifles which gives one the 

idea that the author is approaching his subject more 

as an artist than a thinker, and is aiming more at 

perfection of form than of matter. 

And there are some traits of character about 
Petrarch besides those already mentioned which, in 
spite of his great learning and his brilliance as a man 
and a poet, one cannot admire. Unlike his friend 
Boccaccio iie was jealous of the great Dante and, it is 
77 



THE GREAT PC«TS OF ITALY, 

said, refused to read the " Divina Commecba " at all. 
Intense egotist and autocrat, too, that he was, he 
would brook no rival near that literary throne which 
he claimed as his very own. and yet he was alway-! 
discontented, preoccupied, wearied with Hfe, and per- 
turbed by its trivial disappointments. Although the 
first man of letters of his t-me, and the possessor in 
later life of both honours and riches, he seemed to be 
continually given over to melancholy and to incapacity 
for satisfaction. 

But how many brilliant parts, if they are accom- 
panied by extraordinary contradictions and idiosyn- 
crasies, entered into the ms :eup and character of this 
remarkable Italian. The continual proclaimer ot 
liberty for his enslaved and downtrodden country, vet 
the consortor with and willing tool of her worst 
tyrants. The life-long heralder and exponent of the 
rarest female charms and virtues and of ideal woman- 
hood in his adoration of Laura de Noves, yet, withal 
an unbridled libertine. To-day the recluse and hermit 
pursuing the quiet study of nature amid the mountain 
fastnesses of Vaucluse, to-morrow the clever, eloquent 
and richly-robed ambassador to the sparkling and 
pompous courts of kings and popes. The upholder 
78 



1 



PETRARCH. 



of imperial and papal rule at Rome for one moment, 
tiie ardent advocate of republicanism the next. The 
devoted patriot, and at the same lime anxious ahovc 
everything else for his own personal glorification. 
The great lyrist who first sang in Italy of individual 
instead of allegorical and mystical love, and yet more 
humanist than poet, and philosopher, politician, his- 
lorian, and orator a.s well. Never in Italian, and rarely 
in any countr>' !i literature, has a star of so many dif- 
lerent hues she«e forth, nor a genius more varied or 
ver.satile, nor a oeing evolved from .s.. man\ contra- 
dictory elements, been encountered among the race 
of men. 



79 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



TO PETRARCH. 



Bard of Arrezo, Tuscan son, 

Who for Italia justly won 
The scholar's wreath of bays. 

Who turned from law's and priestcraft's wiles 
To sing of Laura's rapturous smiles, 

And Love's more gentle ways. 



On whose devotion to that name 

Rests more secure his right to fame 

Than on those other parts 

He played, the princely delegate. 

Interpreter of things of state, 
.\nd politician's arts. 



A myth 'tis said she may have been. 
This airy thing, this beauty's queen ; 

Perchance a charming maid. 
Yet others say a matron she. 

Blessed with a numerous progeny. 
The spouse of Hugh de Sade. 
80 



•At 
lh« 14 
mounte 
nine mi 
of the 
those <j 
king' ta 

l.P. ( 



PETRARCH. 

IV. 

But whether matron, maid, or myth. 
The verse he decked his Laura with 

In madrigal and ode, 

In sonnet and in roundelay, 

For Petrarch surely paved the way 
To glory's dazzling road ! 

V. 

One long melodious monody 

To her in fervent loyalty 
His ardent soul outpoured. 

No sweeter gems of canzoniere 
E'er melted on a human ear, 

No female more adored. 

VI. 
I see him leave his Pisan home 

When Clement moved from ancient Rome 
His throne to fair Provence. 

The boy along Avignon's streets, 
Watching the pontiffs, their retreats 

With battlements ensconce.* 



* Aviffnon is ttill encircled hj the rampArts built by the popee of 
the 14th century. The walls which »re of great Rtrenfttb are aur- 
mounted by macbicolated battlementa, flanked at intervali by thirty- 
nine maaaive towera. Thia immense and powerful structure forma one 
of the flnest ezamplee of medinval fortiftcations in existence. In 
tlioBP days of temporal as well as spiritual power, popea as wall sa 
kinKs tiad apparently to guard well their own. 

1.1'. 6 81 



THE GREAT FOETS OF ITALY. 

VII. 

I see his stern, ambitious sire 

Consign to the relentless fire 
Those tomes the lad adored. 

Yet docs the parent kind fores' 
That Mtipl and that Cicero, 

When tearfully in^dored. 



I see him later, near life's noorv. 
With lovely nature close commune 

'Mki hills and date delights. 
Among her limestone ledges mount 

To trace fair Sorgnes to her fount 
In wild Vaucluses heights. 



IX. 

And from that f»r seclusion, he 
Conld look upon impartially 

Those struggles and' affrays 

Which in his time upheaved and tore 

His native hnd, and had before. 
In Alighieri's days. 

82 



PETRARCH. 



1 s««, in modern culture's list, 

His name stand high. Great humanist 
Who gave new learning birth. 

To which his gems of lyric art, 
And all the sweets his songs impart, 

Appear of minor worth. 



XI. 

How well Vaucluse, that deathless name. 
In thee revived the dormant flame 

Of learning's smouldering fire. 
How sweet Avignon, through thy halls 

There pealed those dulcet madrigals. 
The music of that lyre. 



XII. 

He left to a succeeding age 
To darken humanism's page 

With scepticism and doubt. 
To him with faith's consoling light 

The torch of learning burned more bright 
With paganism left out. 
83 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



Petrarch ! Though discord troublesome 
Exiled thee from thy native home, 

Strange cities to behold ; 

Yet Rome rejoiced in time to see 

A worthier crown bestowed on thee 
Than Scipio's of old. 



And old and modern eras met 

When on thy brow the wreath was set 
On Jove's eternal hill. 

When the renaiscent morning burst 
To quench the human spirit's thirst, 

To lessen human ill. 



ml 



XV. 

Standing without the closing door 

Of mediaeval mystic lore, 
'Twas thine to well survey 

The kingdom of the modern thought. 
Thou scholar-bard, who well had wrought 

For learning's brighter day. 

84 



Umil 
powe 



PETRARCH. 

XVI. 

But Nature's haunts could not enchain 
Thee, Petrarch, thou wen ever vain ; 

Ambition made thee go 
To Parma, where a tyrant bold 

Had conquered what he could not hold,* 
Thy friend Correggio. 



And though when Laura came to die 
A calmer life thou then didst try, 

There still within thee ran 
That wish to mingle with the great. 

And despots ruled again thy fate, 
The tyrants of Milan. 



How many contradictions are 
Apparent in thy character. 

Renowned Arrezian. 

To-day a monarchist sincere, 

To-morrow sees thee fearless wear 
The garb republican. 



* While the tTrant Alio dl Correggio freed Parmm from the perhaps 
neater tyranny of the Lorda of Verona in 1341, neither he nor hie 
family conld hold it long, and It came Into the hands of the more 
powerful Tiaeontia in 1840. 

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THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



One day arrayed in peasant dress, 
Roaming Vaucluse's wilderness, 

Content with simple things ; 

The next the wandering bard no more, 

But the rich-robed ambassador 
Before the courts of kings. 



Yet great thy gifts and genius were, 

Whom tyrant and deliverer 
Alike their counsel made. 

Though Florence hid from thee her face. 
Thou hast a worthy resting place 

'Neath Arqua's olive shade. 



86 



m^ 




I.riKJVU-i, AuiDSTd. 



PART in. 



ARIOSTO 



ARIOSTO 



Ludovico Ariosto, born at Reggio, September 8th, 1474. 
Died at Ferrara, June 6th, 153^. 

The fame of Ludovico Ariosto, the epic poet of the 
Renaissance, and his claim to a high place in Italian 
literature rests on one work alone. If he had not left 
us that thrilling story in verse of the ravings of 
Orlando for the beautiful Angelica, who has married 
another, with its many anecdotes and borrowed epi- 
sodes thrown in — the whole included under the well- 
known title, " Orlando Furioso " — he would have no 
other claim to a place here or in any collection of the 
world's great poets. I would not want it inferred from 
this that Ariosto left no other worthy verse. His seven 
satires, in some of which he severely castigated his 
late master, the parsimonious and ungrateful Ippolito 
D'Este, were famous at the time, as well as his con- 
tributions to Italian drama in the form of many 



THE GREAT I'OETS OF ITALY. 

comedies, chief among them " Cassaria Suppositi," 
" La Lena," " 11 Xegromante, ' and the " Scolastica." 
Nearly all these plays were first written in pr jse and 
then transformed into verse. They were composed tu 
please his later and more generous patron, Alphonso, 
who delighted in theatrical performances. Presented 
before the leading families of his province, these 
comedies brought applause and renown to .Ariosto at 
the time of their production, but, unlike the " Orlando 
Furioso," they did not live in Italian literature and 
a'ter their author's time were soon forgotten. They 
abound in immoralities but no more so than the general 
dramatic productions of that period. 

Ludovico .Ariosto was born on September 8th, 1474. 
(one authority* says at Modena, another at Reggioj. 
the eldest of the ten children of Nicolo and Daria 
Ariosto. His father was the commander of the citadel 
of Reggio ; his mother belonged to the wealthy and 
noble family of Malaguzzi, but if she brought any 
wealth t<j her husband it had apparently all vanished 
before the latter's death. Ariosto was another example 
of how nearly the profession of law succeeded in 
depriving the literature and poetry of Italy of whiii 



90 



ARIOSTO. 



was to prove one of their brightest ornaments. Ariosto 
Senior insisted on the boy, aUhough he had early- 
shown a strong inclination towards poetry and letters, 
ivasting five full years of his life in the pursuit of legal 
studies, always distasteful to the young Keggian 
student. His early years were steeped in hardship 
and misfcrtune. Deprived of his father by death ere 
he had reached manhood, there fell upon him, at an 
age when most ambitious young Lombardians were 
cultivating the muse and higher education at the uni- 
versities, the care of his widowed mother and the large 
family of younger brothers and sisters all left com- 
paratively penniless. For, though the father, Nicolo, 
belonged to an influential and titled family, he had 
never taken advantage of his opportunities to provide 
his own large progeny with a competence and had 
apparently wasted any portion his wife had brought 
him. Like his great follower, Tasso, who was not to 
see the light till eleven years after the subject of this 
sketch had breathed his last, young Ariosto, too, fell 
under the spell "< the D'Estes of Ferrara and although 
never imprisoned or forced '.j wander from place to 
place for a livelihood, like the author of the " Gerusa- 
lemme Liberata," the treatment which the princely 
91 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



!i 



family meted out to Ariosto seems to have I'fcn nig- 
garo'iy in the extreme and in no wise commensurate 
with the great v. ork that he accomplished for them or 
for his times. He first attached himself to the Court 
of the Cardinal Ippolito, who, attracted by a prose 
comedy and some light lyrics which Ariosto as a mere 
youth had composed, seems to have looked upon the 
gifted young writer more as a messenger and c court 
jester than an author and paid him a sala.y little better 
than that of a menial servant. The Cardinal's know- 
ledge of letters was scanty and his appreciation of 
the dedication to himself of the " Orlando Furioso " 
was oniy shown by some light joking remark and no 
pecuniary reward. Bitterly sensible of all this ingrati- 
tude after his efforts of over eleven years, and dissatis- 
fied with the irregular instalments in which his small 
allowance was doled out to him, Ariosto fell out with 
the Cardinal, and rather than yield to the latter's 
demands to accompany him on an expedition to Hun 
gary in 1518, he resigned from his service. The Car- 
dinal's brother, Alphonso, Duke of Ferrara, had in the 
meantime made use of the youtig author s learning and 
diplomatic gifts by sending him at Ippolito's instiga- 
tion on tv/o diflerent occasions as ambassador to Pope 
92 



ARIOSTO. 



Julius II, first, when his Holiness had threatened war 
against Fcrrara, and a second time aftt.- the papal 
forces had been defeated. So successful had the young 
poet's efforts been that on his making application to 
't'e Duke for assistance after his severing his relations 
witli the Cardinal (who in the meantime had died), 
til. former api)ointed him Governor of C.-afagnana, a 
distant Appenine province attached to the Dukedom 
of I'Vrrara and then in a state of revolt and civil war. 
Here young Ariosto remained tluoe years, winning by 
''is prudence and tact not only the thanks of his patron 
hut also the affection and entire submission to author- 
ity of the inhabitants of the former rebellious province. 
( )n his return to Ferrara he busied hit. .self with his 
comedies and satires and thankfully acknowledged the 
kindness of the Duke, so much more generous and 
beneficent a patron n.an the Cardinal did .Mphonso 
prove to be. And yet when it is considered how much 
lie did for Alphonso and how he immortalized him by 
Itis muse, one does not wonder that Ariosto afterwards 
complains that neither of his Ferrarese masters had 
done all they should for him. 

The last years of Ariosto's too short life were trar 

quil and happy. A beautiful mansion and garden at 

93 



THR GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

Fcrrara, some say built for him by his patron, others, 
provided by his own frugality, afforded him a con- 
venient retirement where he could revise his great 
work of " Orlando Furioso " and undertake and coni- 
i<lete other minor works. He also now superintcndi<l 
the erection of a theatre in which his own comedii- 
wer^ among the most important of the plays presented. 
Thi- "Orlando Furioso" had been revised once simc 
1515 and reprinted a third time in 1521. Only a year 
before its author's death it appeared again in a new 
and remodelled dress. The fourth, or 1532 edition, is 
the form in which it still appears. It was first printed 
in forty-six books, but twelve years after Ariosto's 
death five more books he had written on the same sul)- 
ject were added to it. Relieved from the cares of 
official life, he had been untroubled as so many of his 
preceding and succeeding fellow poets had been and 
were to be by banishment, political and military dis- 
turbances or the real or imaginary slights or neglect 
of their ideal women. Although Ariosto did not attain 
to old age, his closing days in their calm and serene 
quiet may be said to be unique for one so important 
and exalted in the State and at a time so given to strife 
and warfare of all kinds. He died on the 6th of June. 
94 



ARIOSTO. 



'S.VV of consumption. He had been an abnormally 
fast cater and suflfcred from indigestion. lie niiRlit 
have lived longer had not the physicians rcsortrd to 
such violent remedies to get rid of the first complaint 
that they brought their patient to so weakei.cd a con- 
dition that his last malady seized on him with rapidly 
fatal results. 

Ludovico Ariosto was a man of great eminence in 
the social world as well as in that of literature. In the 
former he moved among and had the afTeciion and 
esteem of the first in the land. Included among his 
close intimates, beside the great D'Este family, were 
the mighty Medici and the best of the Popes. Leo the 
Tenth, the great papal benefactor of literature and art, 
honoured Ariosto with his friendship and his patron- 
age but unfortunately died before he had much oppor- 
tunity to greatly assist in the poet's worldly advance- 
ment. In the letters of his country Ariosto lived long 
enough to see himself assured of permanent fame. 
Kew works have been so often printed as the " Orlando 
Furioso." It has passed through nearly a hundred edi- 
tions and been printed not only in every European 
country but also in all the languages of the world. 

Whether Ariosto was ever actually laureated for his 
95 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



i.'.i 



great work has been the subject of much discussion. 
Some authorities state that he was publicly crowned at 
Mantua by Charles the Fifth in 1532 but the weight of 
opinion is against this. His inclinations at this time 
were towards seclusion. He had only finally completed 
the work late in 1532 and his fatal illness very speedily 
followed, so there would be very little time for a public 
coronation in the short interval. 

The best students and biographers of the Italian 
poets tell us that Ariosto was modest and aflfable. 
rather inclined to melancholy, though sprightly in the 
society of women. He was the enemy of ceremony 
and servility, abstemious in his diet, only eating one 
meal a day and often woke and wrote during the night. 
His disposition was timid. On both land and water 
he seemed to be always guarding against either real 
or imaginary perils, but his integrity was admitted by 
all. He was rather above middle size, had black curly 
hair, black sparkling eyes, large nose, stooped shoulders 
and a slow and deliberate walk and action. 

While Ariosto undoubtedly had some secret amours, 

women did not trouble him in the way in which they 

seem to have continually occupied the time and were 

the chief source of inspiration of many of the other 

96 



ARIOSTO. 



great Italian poets. But he admired tlie fair sex 
greatly, was well versed in the deeds and accomplish- 
ments of all the great women of antiquity, and was 
thus justly entitled to be called the Italian poet of 
chivalry. If he ever married, it was never publicly 
announced. He left two sons, Virginia and Baptista, 
some authorities say by Alexandra, the widow of one 
Strozzi, whom Ariosto is said to have secretly espoused 
late in life. Others allege that Ariosto was too fond 
of liberty to bind hin..,elf, either to the orders of the 
Church or in wedlock, and that the sons were natural, 
each by a different mother. Be this as it may, both 
attached themselves to the ducal house of Ferrara 
and both seem to have attained high distinction in .the 
service of the D'Estes, one ir the Church, the other in 
the Army. 

Ariosto had fallen upon the world in the midst of 
a brillhnt age, a period of great men and great events. 
The Renaissance had dawned. C)Id feudal dynasties 
were giving way to new and more liberal ones; new 
worlds were being discovered ; thought was becoming 
resistless and aggressive; art had reached a period 
of matchless splendour; a band of learned men had 
arisen in Italy who were inculcating the study of 
i.r. 7 97 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

Plutarch. Aristotle, Plato and the other great Greek 
masters; a human individuality wanting in the Middle 
Ages had arisen in Italy and men were now being 
valued more for their personal merit than for their 
birth. Other crowns besides a heavenly one were 
beginning to attract the ambitions of mankind, with 
the result that indifference to good and evil, in other 
words scepticism, was becoming i-ampant. This revival 
of learning, this contempt for mediaeval mysticism, this 
deviation from the poetry of Dante and Petrarch and 
the prose of Boccaccio into the channels of classical 
research, was threatening Italy with pedantry and 
paganism. The professors of this new cult of " human- 
ism," as it was called, though far different from the 
noble and Christian humanism of Petrarch, had 
acquired the habits of puerility of style, of vanity of 
rhetoric, and of the stupidity of tedious quotation. All 
these classic weaknesses combined hung like a dark 
and enveloping cloud over the national literature, and 
it was only the influence of Florence and the illustrious 
and scholarly Lorenzo de Medici that saved Italy from 
again being latinized. Though in private life a liber- 
tine and given to the grossest immoralities, not only 
was Lorenzo great as the public patron of art and let- 



1): 



i ! 



ARIOSTO. 

ters, but also profound himself in that scholarship 
which saw the best results in insisting on the assimila- 
tion of classical models with modern feeling in Italian 
literature. Both idealist and realist himself, he drew 
equally from the classic and the modern schools of 
thought and encouraged this happy combination among 
the learned men of his time. But when Ariosto 
arrived upon the scenes all this intellectual and educa- 
tional advance and magnificence had been to a large 
extent retarded in Italy by the din and the hatred of 
civil war. Her poets and her men of letters had not 
been able, by reason of this upheaval, to take full 
advantage of that spirit of enterprise which was inspir- 
ing their brethren in foreign lands. 

In spite of all the advances in other lines of thought 
and action, poetry since the time of Petrarch and 
Boccaccio had not made an equal progress. Instead 
of attempting the creation of something new. Italian 
poets had satisfied themselves with being only copiers 
of the old Romanticists who had gone before. Uberti 
and Frezzi had produced poor imitations of the 
" Divina Commedia," Orgagna had brought out some 
comic works, Pucci and others had transformed his- 
tory into verse. The drama had received an impetus 
99 



THE OREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

in Mussato's " Eccerinus." Lorenzo de Medici, great 
idealist and realist combined as he was, as I have jiisi 
intimated, had saved Italian literature from entire suli- 
mersion by " humanism," and had brought lustre upon 
his family name, as well as upon Tuscany, by unitini; 
in his poetry all the refinements of the classical world 
of long ago in which he really lived, and had contri- 
buted much to both drama and pastoral poetr). But 
the chivalry from which the old masters had taken 
their songs of love and war had passed away before 
Ariasto's day and only the misty legends connected 
with the adventures of that honoured age remained. 
Poetry seemed therefore in the midst of all these other 
material and intellectual advances to have been rele- 
gated to the school of imitative romance. Among the 
only mediocre writers of this intervening period were 
Pulci, who wrote the heroic poem " Morgante Mag- 
Riore " in Florentine patois, and spoilt his epic of the 
converted giant by burdening it with long and tediou.s 
tales I ' eating and drinking and lists of savoury dishes 
and by writing in a scoffing and irreligious vein. Berni. 
who followed, was chiefly noted as the reviser of 
Boiardo's " Orlando Innamorato." He was the leader 
of his time in satire and burlesque but was cut off 
100 



ARIOSTO. 

by poison through an intrigue of one of the Medici too 
^■arly m hfe to permit of a fair judgment being passed 
"Pon h.s genius. But if he did nothing else he left 
a name for that mocking style of poetry which Byron 
was afterwards so forcefully to adopt. 

It was little to be wondered at therefore that by 
Ar,osto-s t.me the reading and the listening public the 
lettered world of the day, had sickened of all the weak 
and hackneyed imitations that were being dished up 
to them and longed for something original, or at leas, 
for some more attractive and enlivening way of pre- 
senting the old romances. This they found in Ariosto 
for although he adhered to the old plan and instead 
of creatmg and mapping out a new plot and a new 
^tory fell back on Boiardo's "Orlando in Love" the 
author of which had died before completing, yet the 
metamorphosis was so complete, the ad.Iition.s and 
e.nbelhshn,en,s so unsparing, that the two could scarcely 
l.e recognized as bein? from the same original. While 
the style of Boiardo was laboured and heavy, that of 
Anosto was lively, rapid and d.rect and nearer to that 
of the great master of style, Homer, than the produc- 
fons of any other Italian poets had been. The 
Orlando Furioso " may be said to be a law unto itself 
101 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

and unlike any other poem of its own or any otlicr 
time. A strange mixture it surely is of the comic ami 
the satiric, the light and the licentious, the heroic, tin 
descriptive, and the tender. Ariosto depicts his hero 
as maddened by the loss of his Angelica, who, havitif; 
escaped from both Orlando and his rival Rinaldo oui 
side the walls of f'aris, rescues and weds a young war- 
rior, Medoro, after which, apparently in bold defiance di 
Charlemagne and his two kinsmen, her former lovcr>. 
the newly-wedded pair carve their joint names cm 
every tree and wall and cave surroundmg their retreat. 
These inscriptions, discovered by the searching and 
distracted Orlando, lead to his insanity, only cured 
after a long space by the remedy which the paladin 
Astolfo finds in his winged flight to the moon, whither 
he is guided by St. John the Evangelist. This is oiil\ 
ont of the countless airy and unreal tales which 
i\riosto weaves into his long romance of forty-si.x 
hooks. He pads the story with legends o:" every coun- 
try, notable personage and period in which the adven- 
tures and episodes of knights and ladies, hermits and 
sorcerers, demons and angels are continually portrayed. 
He makes no pretence to originality of conception lint 
borrows and copies openly and without disguise, not 
102 



i 



ARIOSTO. 

only from contemporaries, but also from the writings 
of Homer and Virgil and nearly all the other famous 
poets of antiquity. 

And yet in spite of this flagrant plagiarism there is 
an absence of tedium in the " Orlando Furioso " which 
keeps the interest of the reader engaged and which is 
wanting in the works of all the other romanticists who 
preceded Ariosto. The long and otherwise tiresome 
recital of the main narrative is repeatedly coloured and 
enlivened by a sparkling diversion to some well-told 
story of war or love from the older poets. Humoi-r, 
too, shines forth throughout the whole work and the 
verse and mea.sure in which it is composed are unsur- 
passed. His style is lively and rich in description and 
imagination. As far as minuteness of detail is con- 
cerned he is precise except in depicting natural scenery. 
Here he could not lay claim, as the English Words- 
worth could, to be called an analyser of nature, 
although the following stanza, translated by Mr, 
Everett, is hard to surpass as a description of rustic 
beauty : 

"Of fragrant lanrcl trees were charming bowcr.s 
Of palms and of the loveliest myrtle there. 
Cedars and oratigcs with fruit and flowers 
103 



w 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

Entwinid in varied forms, which all were fair, 

C.avi witl, their thick shade from the scorching'powers 

In summer days delectable repair. 

And through the branches moved with careless flight 

Pouring their song the minstrels of the night." 

The great hlot upon Ariosto's peerless work was the 
fulsome praise l.estowed all through it upon the fainih 
of D'Este and his efforts to trace their descent fron, 
the heroes and even the gods of antiqt.ity. While 
Orlando is the notninal hero, Ruggiero the ancestor 
of the lords of Ferrara is made the real one. the accom- 
phsher of the most wonuerful deeds recounted. Ot 
'our.se this is no worse thp,,> the nauseating encomium, 
of the great found in tne works of other Italian poets 
of that age and in those of our own Spenser and 
Dryden and the other English poets, who owed all 
they had or hoped for to the patronage of those in 
high places. But considering the scanty measure of 
reward doled out to Ariosto by the lords of Ferrara 
and the different occasions where he himself refers to 
and bewails this niggardly treatment, it seems at least 
mconsistent if not cowardly in him to bestow such 
unmerited praise as he does upon his parsimonious and 
indifferent patrons. 

104 



u 



ARIOSTO. 

But in spite of this drawback, with its infinite variety 
01 theme, its faultless verse and measure, its keenness 
of detail, its mastery of style, its humour, its occa- 
sional peeps into mythology and the mystic and super- 
natural, its tales of love ad jealousy and demoniacal 
fury, its records of suflfcring and triumph, its episodes 
from Homer and \irgil and the other Ancients clev- 
erly altered to suit his own story, the genius of .\riosto 
has certainly presented to the world in the " Orlando 
Kurioso"' an artistic structure ii words unrivalled in 
his own country except by the Ancients themselves, 
and in ours surpassed alone by Shakspeare, though 
equalled perhaps by .Milton. Space far beyond my 
lunit would be required to convey to the reader an 
adequate description of the many beauties of the work, 
the deeds of its chivalric knights and charming ladies, 
their songs of love and war. their noble steeds, their 
stately halls and matchless gardens of flowers, foun- 
tains and terraces, their velvet lawns studded with mag- 
nificent trees and the vast forests with their beasts of 
prey, surrounding the great ancestral demesnes here 
pictured. To fully .appreciate the " Orlando Furioso " 
the English student of poetry requires first to be a 
genuine lover of high romance. Next he must pos- 
105 



!i 



THE r.REAT POETS OF ITALV. 
sess himself of one of the best translations obtainable 
and this will require not only to be hurriedly glancci 
through but that every part be given the n,ost carcf.,1 
study and analysis. 

Ariost,, wrote not for j>osterity but only for his own 
generation. Me was an artist merely for the love of 
his art. He strove for perfection in forn, and styk 
not to hand down to future generations a uork- c<.„- 
taming any great moral lesson or any serious purix-.c 
H,s subject, '• Orlando," was a threadbare one and 
would never in itself have kept the " Furioso " alive 
It was the magical and indescribable manner in which 
Anosto's genius endowed his subject that has ensure.l 
'ts immortality. Nowhere else in Italian letters is t„ 
be found such a rare combinatioi, of poem, roma.icc 
ep.c and drama. In the works of this seeming impro- 
visator, yet really deep scholar, there may be said to be 
included all the learning and all the faith of the- 
Renaissance. And in him the stanzaic framework 
which he adopted, the Ottava Rima. reached a higher 
pinnacle of perfection in grace and beauty than in the 
hands of any other Italian poet. 



106 



ARIOSTO. 

TO ARIOSTO. 
I. 

Long after Dante sang the woes of Di 
And of the heavenly joys of Heatrico told, 

A cycle after Petrarch ureamed in bliss. 
Of Laura and her virtues manifold: 

While on the crest of Ocean's vast abyss, 
The dauntless (<enoese tempestuous roll'd. 

.And Italy yet groaned 'neath lurid war 

There dawned at Reggio .\riosto's star. 

II. 

Rre this, to Florence 't had been given to save 
Italian letters from a shameless dower. 

For humanism had threatened to enslave 
All modern thought with its pedantic power. 

Of puerile style and pagan speech — a wave 
Her youthful lore had threatened to devour. 

When great Lorenzo came and joined the ideal. 

The ancient classic thought, with modern real. 



Brilliant the time when on the world there shone 
The offspring of Emilia's gifted breed. 

Though unkind fate had early made him groan 
Beneath the tyrant yoke of D'Estes need ; 
107 



THE C.REAT POETS OF ITALY. 

Yet all his fortune with Ferrara thrown, 

Mow well from these had he his genius freed. 
Ti. ohange with art and style and humour strong. 
'I"Ik- weak- eflfect ■ Hoiardo's song. 



Happy it was that .Ariosto came. 

To light again the old Dantean fire. 
For Frezzi"s empty song, servile and lame. 

No longer new resounded but to tire. 
Men asked for epic of more lofty aim 

Than Puici struck from his irreverent lyre. 
And something, too, more knightly, less grotesque 
Than Rerni's wit and niinii king burlesque. 



So Ariosto's master m? id took hold. 

And from aivining star.-; ,ind sorcery 
The rarest tales evolved, sublime atid bold ; 

The lovers' names entwined on grot and tree. 
Alcina tc her garden from the wold, 

Ruggiero alluring sof)thingly ; 
The kidnapped maiden in the Hebrides, 
Rockbound and torn by monsters of the seas. 

108 



AKIOSTO. 



VI. 



Thus all this medley of the false and true 
Swift passes in kalediscopic sight 

Of lurking beast, of forests varied hue, 
'>f mansion fair, of revel blithe and bright. 

What stately halls and courtyards in review! 
With lovely lady anil with gallant knight, 

What riders on their chargers prancing gay ! 

What maidens singing soft their roundelay ! 



.\ complex fra. .ork round which close were wove 
Enchantment, ission, chivalry and hate. 

Behold Orlando, . >w he, maddened, strove 
Medoro and Angelica t'unmate ; 

See Christian Bradamante's undying love 
To Pagan Ruggiero consecrate. 

The consummation of that holy flame 

From which the mighty race of Este came. 



And he tells, too, in faultless stirring verse 
Of poor Orlando all with madness hewn, 

Raving beneath his frenzy's blightmg curse, 
lill paladin Astolfo in the moon, 
109 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

While coursing through the astral universe, 

Discovers reason's full restoring boon, 
The bottled minds of men, besides his own 
He also finds and brings Orlando's down. 



" For," says the song, " in Luna is a spot 
Where gather all the things of earth mislaid. 

The glory of great empires long forgot. 
The tears and sighs of loving ones betrayed ; 

And close-sealed phials in a countless lot 

Where wandering minds of men are oft conveyed,' 

So, saturate with that essence from above, 

Orlando's cur^d of madness and of love. 



i 



Heedless of space and unconfined by time, 
The bard embraces every zone and shore. 

From .\fric's deserts and her tropic clime 
To northern lands with mere and river frore : 

He paints the storm, he sings of stress and crime. 
Of struggling ships, of billows' surge and roar 

From orient ports, where pope and priest hold sway 

To pagan Indus and to far Cathay. 

no 



ARIOSTO. 



How happy that it was not asked of thee, 
Great Reggian bard, that from thy native land 

Thou should'st an outlaw and expatriate be. 
To wander exiled on a foreign strand : 

.Vor forced o'er distant mountain slopes to flee, 
Seared with the unrequited lover's brand. 

These were the fates of other poets ; thine, 

To pen thy verse contented and benign. 



And, thou who on laborious stanzas wove 
The shafts of fury, lighted the dull page 

With bursts of chivalry and gleams of love. 
While history opened on a brighter age ; 

How well with thee romance and epic throve. 
To whom was given that envied.heritage. 

To weave rich fiction, marvels rare unfold. 

Which rival Homer's matchless songs of old. 



Ill 



ir 



^il 






n 




MICIIAKI. ANGKI.O. 



PART IV. 



MICHAEL ANGELO 



IP. 8 



113 



m 



It' 



MICHAEL ANGELO 



Michael Angela Buonarroti, born at Capresc, March 
6th. 14Y4. Died at Rome. February 18th, 1564.* 

I MAY be open to censure for including this remark- 
able man — far more remarkable in the other fine arts 
than in the realm of poetry — among the seven most 
notable Italian poets. There are so many others of 
whom it may be truly said that devotion to the muse 
was so much more largely their chief calling in life 
than his, and no doubt the important events of his life 
may be more appropriately and fully told in a work 
dealing with great painters and sculptors rather than 
with poets and poetry. 

I admit there is, on the face of it. some reason for 
taking this [Msition. Michael Angelo Buonarroti's fame 
is undoubtedly greater in the realms of painting and 
sculpture than in that of poetry. But it cannot be 



' Everett tays 15Hn. 

115 






THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

deduced from this alone that he was not one of the 
greatest of Italian poets, and my justification for in- 
cluding him here is that no one can properly argue that 
the mere fact of his having attained to the very highest 
pinnacle of fame as a painter and a sculptor can 
detract from the exalted and eminent place he took 
in his third and late choice in life, Italian verse. More- 
over, the very exceptional circumstances surroundiuR 
the poetry he wrote— his advanced age, ...e mighty 
name he had already made for himself in the other 
fields just mentioned, his platonic aflfection for young 
Cavalieri, his reverence for and loyalty to the widow 
of Pescara, his worship of ideal beauty, not beauty in 
its personal and specific manifestations but in the 
universal and the impersonal— all these, apart alto- 
gether from the strict literary merit of his verse, must 
surely entitle Michael Angelo to a high and worthy 
place among the bards of his native country. 

He was one of the great Florentines, though not 
actually born there, the family being away at Caprcse 
where the father, Ludovico Buonarroti, was tempor- 
ary governor under the Medici, at the date of Michael 
Angelo's birth on the 6th of March, 1474. The family 
116 



MICHAEL ANGELO. 

boasted of noble descent* but Ludovico was never 
capable of earning more than a bare living for his 
family, and was too proud to engage in trade. Michael 
Angelo's mother was delicate from his birth and died 
a few years afterwards, and it is recorded that he had 
to be nursed when an infant by a foster-mother, the 
wife of a neighliouring marble- worker. Early in life 
the boy showed a strong predisposition towards art 
e.specially sculpture, havir.g as he .said, " sucked in the' 
passion with his foster-mother's milk." His father 
Leing ambitious though poor, had higher aims than this' 
for his son, but after many solicitations agreed to the 
lad following his chosen calling, and at thirteen he 
began the career of a painter with the famous Brothers 
GhirlanJaio. 

To follow the young artist through his many trials 
and triumphs, both in painting and sculpture, and later 
on in architecture, until while still a comparatively 
young man he became far and aw.ty the leader of the 
then known world in all the.se arts, would be presump- 
tion on my part. Many others more profound in scholar- 
sh^pwd better informed on the subjects themselves 

•Florence Trail B«yg (p. iin .h.. m!„u».. , , , 

117 



TIIK GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

have accomplished this task so much more fully and 
ably than 1 could do, and besides I must not tire in\ 
readers by such a digression, but must remember that 
I am dealing here with the poet and not with tht 
achievements of men however masterful in the other 
fields of fine Art. But 1 may be permitted to .say in 
passing that, soon transferring his attentions to sculp- 
ture, while not neglecting painting, under his illustrious 
patrons, the Medici and afterwards at Uologiia and at 
Rome under Galli Piccolomini Soderini, the Popes 
Julius II, Leo X ^nd Clement VII, the talented Italian 
had, by the year 1522, drawn the attention and admira- 
tion of the world to himself and his own City of 
Florence by his numerous, rare and unchallenged 
works, many of them preserved to this day as the 
greatest and most priceless treasures of art the world 
contains. Let me mention only a few, in chronological 
order. Firstly in sculpture : " Mary lamenting over 
the Body of Christ," " David," " Cupid," the monu- 
ment to Julius II, the -.lonuments of the Medici in the 
Mortuary Chapel of San Lorenzo, " Victory," " The 
Madonna," " Kneeling Angel," " St. John in the Wild- 
erness," " Virgin and Child," " Madonna and Child," 
"St. Matthew," "Moses," "Crouching Boy," "Brutus." 
118 



MICHAEL ANGELO. 
His masterpiece in painting in which he was the con- 
temporary and rival of the great Raphael, is of course 
ihe ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at St. Peter's, Rome, 
which took him nearly live years to accomplish and 
which involved an enormous amount of physical en- 
durance, most of the work having to be done in a 
rccumlient [xisition, face towards, to say nothing of 
the annoyances occasioned by delays in payment and 
the intriRues of enemies and rivals while the great task 
was in progress. The toils and difficulties encountered 
ill this vast emprise called from the mighty labourer 
these almost despairing lines : 

• I've grown a goitre by dwelling in this den, 
As cats from stagnant streams in Umbardy 
Or in what other land they hap to be. 
Which drives the belly dose beneath the chin. 
-Vfy beard turns up to heaven, my nape falls in. 
Fixed on my spine, my breast bone visibly 
Grows like a harp, ?. rich embroidery 
Bedews my face from brush-drops thick and thin. 
My loins into my paunch like levers grind. 
My buttock like a cruppt bears my weight, 
My feet, unguided, wander to and fro. 
In front my skin grows loose, and long behind, 
By bending it becomes more taut and straight. 
119 



THE CHEAT POETS OF ITALY. 

Cro.swisf I strain mc like a Syrian bow, 

Whi-iicf false anil quaint I know 

Muit be the fruit of Miuinting brain and eye. 

For ill can aim the gun th.it lienils awry. 

Come then. (linvanni. try 

To succour my .lead pictures ami my fame 

Since foul 1 fare and painting is niy shame," 

which went to .show that ahhough fate had destined 
that this was to be the work which far more than any- 
thinj,' else was to mark him fur immortahty it had 
become by this time loathsome to its undertaker whose 
heart yearned for his marble and his chisel rather than 
for his brush. His great painting of " The Last 
Judgment " is also in the Sistine Chapel. This he 
finished for Pope Clement in 1541. "The Holv 
Family," "The Virgin and Child with Four Angels" 
and •• The Entombment of Christ " (the last two in 
the National (iallery at London) are a few others 
of the priceless masterpieces of Michael Angeles 
brush which have been handed down to the present 
generation. 

But now to get at what this article is really intended 
for, a sketch of Michael Angelo, the poet. In this 
capacity he is unique, not only in his own country, but 
120 



MICHAEL ANGELO. 
also in any other. Kngland, it is true, can boast of her 



lllakc and her Kossetti, masters 



in both pa'nting and 



IKKJtry, and similar Ixiasts may be made by other 
nations, but in no other land or age in the world's 
history has there appeared a character of such diverse 
gifts and all developed to such perfection and fullness 
of accomplishment as Michael Angelo. He has been 
well named the greatest soul of his century and the 
sublimest genius of the world and an English writer* 
has said that the thought of another Michael Angelo in 
any land is impossible.f He had written some love 
ditties in the early days at Bologna but it was not till 
after .ill Se grf,it achievements I have already 

* sir J«m«i Stephen. 

t In th,ir luminou. .„d diMunl.. work .ntilM ",v Hl.tory o( the 
Hon In Vol. I ,.„,„, ,^ „|^^ ,^__, L.„„,rto D. VIncI th« n,.t 

n v" »:*, 'uv.r.n '° T"^,'"" " '° «"" • "•" " '^. -i.l" 

in vrri. If he left ,„, ,„<,i,, a,, „„ uerh.o. 

121 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



mi ih 
I % 



recorded and after he had attained his sixtieth year 
that the long pent elements of fervour and tendernc- 
in the great artist's nature found utterance in verse. 
And then there was no idea of publicity or of pecun- 
iary gain. The sonnets and other poems were mereh 
sent to friends, some of whom they were dedicated to. 
and all remained in manuscript for over half a cen- 
tury after their author's death. And even then tlicy 
were given to the world far differently to the originals 
as left by the great sculptor-poet. His grand nephew, 
-Michael Angelo the Younger, undertook to puljlish his 
uncle's verse but fearing to oflfend the Church by some 
references made to it, being over-nice in judging the 
grammar and versification of his great relative, and 
fearful of the misconstruction of the poems addressed 
to young Cavalieri, the young publisher undertook to 
alter, add to and subtract from the originals, mere 
rough-hewn blockings-out of poems, rather than 
finished works of art as they seemed to him, so that 
when they did appear they bore no resemblance at all 
to what their illustrious author had written. It could not 
be expected of Michael Angelo that the poetry whicli 
he was leaving to posterity, could, considering the late 
period at which he wrote, the mighty accomplishment i 
122 



MICHAEL AN'GELO. 



in sculpture and painting he had wrought and th ; 
admittedly narrow range of his poetic mind, be volum- 
inous or bulky. The hand and brain of the most gifted 
man who ever lived is only capable of a certain amount 
of effort. Michael .Angelo had almost exhausted his 
mighty energies, both mental and physical, on the 
rocks of Carrara and — what to any ordinary artist 
would have seemed an unsurmountable task — the 
transmutation of the dome of the vast Sistine (flat on 
Ills back all the while), from plain plaster to a veri- 
table fairyland of deities, angels, patriarchs and 
proiihets set in the various actions in which they are 
de])ii.'ted as being engaged, in a background the most 
beautiful that imaginative nature can suggest. So that 
if he has succeeded in adding anything of merit to the 
poetry of his country under these conditions he is 
surely entitled to a much higher place in our estimation 
than if his whole life had been devoted to the muse. 
His poetry is of the clear-cut, impressive kind. 
Strange to say he stuck to the Petrarchan model in his 
verse, not caring, as in the sensuous arts, to strive to 
establish any precedents in his style. He wrote 
laboriously and with care to avoid errors — it was the 
.sculptor modelling the beautiful again but this time 
123 



m 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

out of the material of language instead of out of that 
of marble or of tints and colours. His temperament 
was all the time restless and suspicious. Twice during 
his employment by Pietro de iledici and Pope Julius 
n, imagining himself wronged or in danger, he had 
taken sudden leave and could with difficulty be per- 
suaded to return to his work. Jealousy also claimed 
him as her victim and moodily he had refused intimacy 
with the gentle Raphael, fearful no doubt lest some of 
his own laurels might be purloined or questioned by 
his equally illustrious contemporary on canvas. 

Elsewhere I have explained that the chief subject 
matter of the poems of Michael Angelo's age and coun- 
try was love— a passionate adoration in verse of some 
marked favourite of the opposite sex. Such had been 
the theme of his mighty master Dante, and of the great 
Petrarch who followed him, in their worships, spiritual 
as it may have been, but essentially personal, of 
Beatrice and Laura. Such also was to be the magnet 
which was to attract the immortal bard of Ferrara. 
who was immediately to follow him whose exploits I 
am now recording, in that more material and sensual 
and alas, fatal devotion which he showed to the D'Este 
sisters. Not so with Michael Angelo. His theme also 
124 



MICHAEL ANGELO. 



was. indeed, love but it was on a loftier, more ideal 
plane than any of these. He had drunk deep of the 
philosophy of Plato and at the samo time had come 
under the wave of the religious revival that had fol- 
lowed the romantic period in Italy and was then being 
proclaimed by Savonorola in Florence. While he held 
in contempt the treatment meted out by the factions 
tthn controlled the Government of Florence to Dante 
:iiid Petrarch and other illustrious men of Tuscany 
lie still held his own city in deep affection and always 
turned to her when other places failed or disappointed 
!iim. So that if we discern in the limited verse '>' 
.Michael Angelo that has been handed down to r- 
])resent day, instead of devotion of the amorous ,. 
the sensual kind, a threefold love of Christ, of Flor- 
ence, and of Beauty we have not far to go for the 
reasons for these lofty expressions of his attachment 
to the ideal and the impersonal rather than to the 
specific and the individual. His passionate adoration 
of young Cavalieri and later on of Vittoria Colonna, 
to both of whom he dedicated much of his verse, 
would seem at first to contradict this, but a closer study 
iif the works which relate to these two will shew that 
they were simply his ideals of perfect man and woman, 
125 






THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

whose loveliness Michael Angelo regarded as merelv 
symbolical of eternal and immutable beauty. I quou 
here the sonnet dedicated to his ideal lady, as trans- 
lated by i\3r. Symonds. It is typiral of most of lii> 
poetry and showed the mind of the sculptor and llu- 
painter but with a new material — language. 

" When that which is divine in us doth try 
To shape a face, both brain and hand unite 
To give from a mere model, frail and slight. 
Life to the stone by Art's free energy. 
Thus too before the painter dares lo ply 
Paint-brush on canvas, he is wont to write 
Sketches on scraps of paper and invite 
Wise minds to judge his figured historj. 
So, born a model rude and mean to be 
Of my poor self I gain a nobler birth. 
Lady from you, you fountain of all worth. 
Each overplus and each deficiency 
Vou will make good. What penance then is due 
For my fierce heat chastened and taught by you?" 

This lady, Michael Angelo declares, had recreated him 
and inspired in his life a sense of higher things never 
experienced by him before. 

He left behind hitn no long work ii^ poetry as his 
master. Dante, had done, for the reasons I have 
126 



MICHAEL ANGELO. 



already explained. His chosen forms of poetic expres- 
sion were the sonnet and the madrigal. His verse and 
rhyme show a variety of combination and his thoughts 
are essentially original. If there is apparent in his 
word efforts too much absorption in his own skill and 
a certain amount of obscurity and " aloofness " these 
must be attributed to the habits of impetuosity and 
concentration acquired when pursuing the arduous 
duties of his earlier life. Besides his verse dedicated 
to Colonna the sonnets to the Supreme Being and to 
Oante are exquisite for their tenderness and ^<urity. 

Michael Angelo. who never married, lived for long 
after his work as a poet was done. Even his last 
years were energetic, mostly employed in the architec- 
ture of St. Peter's and many of the other great build- 
ings of the Eternal City, where he died in 1564, busy 
and active to the day of his death. Though moody, 
taciturn and fitful, in late as in early life, his unchal- 
lenged fame and the respect due to his great age, made 
him, even up to the very time of his final callii.g away, 
the most honoured and illustrious citizen of Rome. 

H one must be limited to the lives of those great 
.Ualians who followed and wrote poetry only in the 
strict sense and as one of the fine arts, I will no doubt, 
127 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



j 


;i: 


' 


I 


' 


(1 


i 


1 



as I said at the outset, be censured for including in 
these memoirs Michael Angelo. whose poetry, properly 
speaking, covered only a narrow and a limited range. 
But in its broader, nobler and more universal sense, 
namely, in the creation of the imaginative and the 
beautiful, can we not get away for a moment from the 
strict letter of our text to its spirit, and regard the 
great master artist of Florence as all his hfe such a 
creator.' Though to us the conceptions of that mighty 
soul may be intellectually inexhaustible and indefin- 
able, may we not contemplate his whole life's work as 
one great and sublime poem? Poetry, we must not 
forget, is something more than mere word painting; 
it soars in its true comprehension far above the poor 
human rules of rhyme and measure to the intangible 
and the inexpressible! The lover of Nature, gazing 
from some eminence over a vista of green, interspersed 
with stream and bridge and hamlet and garden stretch- 
ing below and on to the inimitable blue spreading with 
its white-capped waves in contrast beyond, sees 
poetry— deep, universal and beautiful— lying before 
him. How happy he, if, in addition to this faculty of 
perception, he has the genius to express the feeling he 
experiences in language as inspiring as the scene itself? 
128 



MICHAEL ANGELO. 

How triflingly he regards in comparison to this divine 

gift the material things of Earth. How little he cares 

for the sneers and scoflfs of the worldly canaille about 

him. 

" The fools unmeaning laugh, the critics hate." 

And as another great master of the Art, England's 
true " bard of beauty." young, poor and inexperienced 
in worldly things as he was, unknown and unappreci- 
ated by the busy, vulgar rabble, and destined alas, so 
soon to be called hence, saw in the carving on that old 
weatherbeaten urn in the garden of Holland House 
those rare mind creations which he was permitted to 
hand down to us in the word-moulding of his match- 
less ode. so doubtless this peerless, trebly-gifted Italian 
before him. gazing on the completed works in marble 
and fresco, of which he himself was the author, could 
discern issuing from the product of his hand and brain 
that same magic voice which said to Keats three 
centuries afterwards: 

" Bea'ity is Truth. Truth Beauty — that is all 
Ye know on Earth and all ve need to know." 



I.1-. 9 



129 



'I'llH GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

TO MICHAEL ANGELO. 
I. 
Thou peerless sculptor, painter bold 

Who shaped Carrara's stone, 
Who outlined true the saints of old 

And formed the Holy One, 
Whose fresco tells the dire dismay 
Of sinners on that dreadful day 

When on the judgment seat 
Th' Omnipotent shall sternly sit. 
Decrees pronouncing final, fit, 

How marvellous yet meet 
That thou in thy maiurer age 
Shouldst too adorn the muse's page. 



What gorgeous tombs of pope and king 

Rose from thy master hand. 
What love gods with bewitching wing 

What Davids, virile, grand ; 
Stern Moses handing dowh the law 
As angered, he base Israel saw 

Before the calf of gold; 
The Sweet Madonna, gentle, mild. 
Soft smiling on her Holy Child ; 

.All from the marble cold 
Thou didst evolve, and with what grace ; 
In each a comely form and face. 
130 



MICHAEL ANGELO. 



Close 'gainst the Sistine's ceiling vault 

Supine for years reclined 
Thy wearied frame and without fault 

Thy rare constructive mind 
The world's creation fashioned there, 
Man driven from his Eden fair, 

The flood, the Sacrifice 
Of grateful N'oah. huge CKjliath 
As stricken by the stone, he dieth. 

So boundless thy emprise 
That even Haman's fate condign 
Is pictured in the vast design. 



IV. 

And as in marble well thou wrought, 

As thy deft brush in hand 
Rich treasure to the canvas brought 

A true magician's wand ; 
So did thy varied mind inspire 
To beauty's love the poet's lyre 

In sonnet and in song ; 
So in Colonna s praise I see 
A spiritual symmetry, 

Carved from the female throng. 
A word portrayal to express 
A universal loveliness. 

131 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



iVaught of the rude or commoiiplare 

In thy love odes I find. 
In all thy poetry I trace 

The chaste and cultured mind. 
The loftip'"* of thy designs 
With love oi beauty intertwines 

The Sculptor's masterpiece 
Renewed again in verbal moulds, 
Rare vistas to the soul unfolds. 

Outspreading without cease 
Bright constellations ; from wi.iv.h fall 
Beauties serene, impersonal. 



ill 



Creator ot the fair and bright 

In all their winning ways, 
Chisel and brush and pen unite 

With thee in Beauty's praise. 
I scan thee, and I learn to look 
Beyond the pages of the bojk 

To the untouched, untold. 
For not alone thy polished line. 
But all the graces that were thine 

Heaven's harmonies unfold. 
And men, alas I can never know 
Another Michael Angelo. 

132 




TORnrATO TASSO. 



PART V. 



TASSO 



133 



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■ 3 



TASSO 



'[orquato Tasso, born at Sorrento, March nth, i=i44. 
Died at Saint Onifrio, Rome, April S'jth. /.SP-/-* 

The life of Torquato Tasso, the Italian contem- 
porary of our own Edmund Spenser and the heroic 
poet of the Italian revival's afterglow, is not hard to 
write. In fact so full is it of incident, of wandering, 
of hardship, of the excitement and passion of love and 
of the general ups and downs of a character naturally 
restless and unsatisfied yet withal possessing a mind 
pre-eminently gifted, that the biographer limited to a 
short space in giving the chief events in this remark- 
able man's life finds that space exhausted before he 
feels that he has been at all able to do justice to his 
subject. Neither are the literary records of Tasso nor 
those branches of poetry in which he excelled difficult 
to gather together or explain. Though he was no Joubl 

*8ome records Kay 1.^95. 

135 



l!.!;ff: 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

a voluminous and exhaustive writer he never attracted 
a large amount of attention to any of his other works 
than •• Rinaldo," the effort of his youth, his drama of 
"Aminta," which gave him great local fame, and his 
last and by far his greatest accomplishment of " Jeru- 
salem Delivered." He died comparatively young, and 
was not allowed that long period of time in which to 
spread his efforts over the many fields of literature and 
song, that other poets of his own and former times 
attempted to enter upon and excel in. The sorrows of 
his childhood, the unrequited love of his youth, the 
wanderings and imprisonment of his later life, the pur- 
loming of his best poetic efforts and his sad end all go 
to make Torquato Tasso the most pathetic figure in 
Italian literary annals. 

The father of Torquato, Bernardo by name, was 
himself a man of letters and a poet, and the family 
was an old and influential one which had resided at 
Bergamo for generations. Bernardo entered the ser- 
vice of the Prince of Salerno as his secretary in 1531 
and married the mother of the poet, a beautiful lady 
of Naples, surnamed Rossi, in 1539. In 1540 he retired 
temporarily to Sorrento in order to pursue his fav- 
ourite i«stime of poetry, and in this charming spot, 
136 



TASSO. 



one of the loveliest in the whole world, his illustrious 
son and second child was born on the nth of March, 
1544. But the fortunes of the father were not destined 
to last long. Three years after the birth of Torquato, 
the Prince of Salerno, in dread of assassination at the 
hands of powerful enemies at Naples, quitted Italy for 
France, and Tasso senior, loyal to his prince, followed 
him into banishment leaving young Torquato, then 
seven years old, with his mother and elder sister at 
Xaples. The family patrimony was confiscated and 
sentence of death passed on the prince and all his 
adherents. 

The youth was educated by the Jesuit fathers and at 
ten years of age had acquired a good knowledge of 
Greek and Latin. He had also learned by this time 
both poetry and rhetoric and had laid the foundation 
for that deep religious spirit which permeated his 
whole after life and gave a sacred title to the great 
poem which was to make him famous. 

His father was permitted to return to Italy again 
in 1554, and at this time met the Cardinal DEste, 
whose name and family were afterwards to be so insep- 
arably associated with the fortunes of his son. With 
the backing of this powerful family, Bernardo Tasso 
137 



Ill 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

no doubt felt secure and young Torquato now joined his 
father at Rome, owing to the retirement of his mother 
and sister into a monastery through the deprivation 
of the former's private fortune by her unprincipled 
brothers. Her death two years afterwards was also 
laid to their charge. 

Torquato was now sent by his father to an influential 
lady relative at Bergamo on account largely of troubles 
which were brewing (■:.r the elder Tasso at Rome. 
Here he met the Duke ^f Urbino and became the com- 
panion, in study and in the use of the sword, of the 
latter 's son. After two years spent here in acquiring 
those accomplishments necessary to the education of 
a finished Italian gentleman Torquato joined his father 
at Venice in 1559 and stayed there a year studying 
Dante and Petrarch, whom, as well as Ariosto, he took 
for his models, and at sixteen years of age entered the 
University of Padua, where his father intended he 
should pursue the study of law. Secretly, however, 
young Tasso was following up the pursuit of poetry 
and at eighteen, to the amazement of his friends, he 
produced the beautiful poem, " Rinaldo," which he had 
conceived and completed in the short space of ten 
months. Although his father was grieved at the young 
138 



TASSO. 

man's evident determination to make letters instead of 
law the ruling occupation of his life, it is said that so 
soon as he saw and read " Rinaldo " he was so favour- 
ably impressed that he reluctantly gave his consent to 
the change in his son's career. 

Although " Rinaldo " did not bring to the youth of 
eighteen the fame which his " Aminta " or his " Jeru- 
salem Delivered" afterwards brought, it was looked 
upon by the learned of that day as a marvel for one 
so young and was received with great acclaim. It was 
inscribed to the Cardinal Luigi D'Este, into whose 
employ the young poet's father had now entered. The 
poem was written in ottava rima, and in it he alludes 
to the joy he experiences in being relieved from the 
dry, and to him barren, pursuit of his legal studies in 
these words: 

" Yet O if Heaven should e'er my wishes crown 
With ease released from law's discordant maze 
To spend on the green turf, in forests brown 
With bland Apollo whole harmonious days, 
Then might I spread Luigi thy renown 
Where'er the sun darts forth resplendent rays." 

The year he abandoned law he entered the Univer- 
sity of Bologna and devoted himself to the study of 
139 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY, 
tne muses and philosophy. He had already conceived 
the Idea of crystallizing into verse the story of Jeru- 
salem and the crusaders, and while at Bologna drafted 
the first three canto.s of the great work. Kow long 
he might have stayed here is not known for he now 
unexpectedly received word that he had been called to 
the household of the Cardinal D'Este at Ferrara and 
left the University to join his father at the place which 
was to be so full of destiny for him, was to see him in 
turn exalted to high places and cast down to the lowest 
deTpair"' "'^'^"' ™P"'°"'"^"'' ""requited love and 

The circumstances surrounding Tasso's arrival at 
l-errara were brilliant and promising. One of his 
patron-s family had contracted a matrimonial alliance 
with a daughter of the Austrian Imperial House and 
the young poet came on the scene just in time to par- 
take of and be dazzled by all the gay pageantry and 
splendour attending the royal nuptials. The death of 
the reigning Pope almost immediately afterward called 
Lu.gt to Rome and Tasso was left to amuse and employ 
himself as he best liked. Thus opened to him the 
opportunity to meet and cuhivate the acquaintance of 
the two beautiful sisters of the absent Cardinal, the 
Princesses Lucretia and Leonora. Although they were 
140 



TASSO. 



both much older than the poet, they were highly cul- 
tured and fond of poetry, and this soon made the 
admiration of the sisters and the young author of 
" Rinaldo " mutual. It also brought about an intro- 
duction to another brother, the Duke Alphonso, to 
whom Tasso decided to dedicate his new and great 
work of " Jerusalem Delivered," which he was now 
engaged in writing. On the Cardinal's return further 
favours awaited young Tasso, no doubt through the 
influence of the two royal ladies, on whom by now his 
attractive personality and occasional minor and lauda- 
tory poems addressed to them had created a deep and 
lasting impression. He was permitted to sit with the 
highest courtiers and with the Duke himself and to 
meet the men most distinguished both in letters and 
scholarship and those in exalted positions in the State. 
He also now met another Lucreti-., a famous beauty 
and a singer of renown who afterwards married into 
the family of Macchiavelli. To her, too, he addressed 
many odes and madrigals. It has been suggested that 
Tasso fell in love with this charming woman, then 
known as Madame Bendidio, but it would appear 
rather that he sought more to outrival in literary eflfort 
other poets who were also making their addresses to 
141 



pi 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

her than that he was actuated by any amorous motives 
of his own. 

Bernardo Tasso died in 1569, having lived long 
enough to see his promising son on the sure road U< 
fame. In the following year the Prinr^ss Lucretia 
married the Count D'Urbino and this threw the 
younger sister and the poet more than ever together, 
for Leonora D'Este, satiated with worldly pleasure 
and deprived of her elder sister's society, now decided 
to pursue more congenial tastes in private study and 
in the intimacy and companionship of learned and 
lettered men. The barriers of convemionalitv which 
had separated them were also beginning to fall 'through 
lengthened intimacy and very frequent commingling 
of their fellow-feeling for the attractions of the muse. 
It cannot be a surprise, therefore, to find that the 
charms of this fascinating and royal lady were now, 
with all these opportunities, making deep inroads on 
the poefs heart, nor that verses were springing from 
his pen breathing towards her soft and bashful senti- 
ments like these : 

" Love binds my soul in chains of bliss 
Firm, rigorous, strict and strong, 
I am not sorrowful for this 
But why I quarrel with him is 
He quite ties up my tongue." 
142 



TASSO. 

In 1570 the poet visited the Court of France with 
Cardinal D'Este and was made much of by the French 
king. Charles the Ninth, whose name was soon after- 
wards to be held in abhorrence owing to its association 
with the dreadful massacre of St. Bartholomew. Here, 
too, he met and became a fast friend of the great 
French poet Ronsard. But the visit to France was not 
an unmixed success. Either through the intrigues of 
jealous rivals or for somt -ither cause, some say 
through his too openly expressed disapproval of the 
St. Bartholomew massacre, he here lost favour with 
his patron and under the excuse or privilege of a leave 
of absence, retired to Rome. But this did not mean 
a cutting oflF of all communication with the D'Este 
family. Rather quite the reverse. The infatuation 
for the Princess Leonora had gone too far for this 
and after penning one of his sweetest love songs to 
her at Tivoli, where she had come to visit her uncle. 
the great Ippolito, at his beautiful villa and gardens, 
a journey of only an hour or so from where the poet 
was himself staying, we find Tasso again, through the 
influence of the two royal sisters, seeking and obtain- 
ing employment in the same influential family, this 
time with the Duke Alphonso. His circumstances were 
143 



ft 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

in reality wonderfully improved by the change. Il„ 
income was larger and his duties less exacting. He 
had plenty of time now to follow his poetic inclina- 
tions. Not only did he bring to perfection hi. 
" Jeru.salem Delivered," both in interest of episode and 
majesty of diction, but he also took advantage of the 
time he was given by the absence of the Duke in Rome 
to begin and complete in two months' time his beauti- 
ful pastoral dramatic fable of " Aminta," which, in hi. 
own country at least, brought him a fame hardly second 
to the " Jerusalem Delivered." 

Tasso's full renown may be said to have been at it. 
zen>th when, in the spring of 1573, his " Aminta " wa. 
presented before the Cardinal and the Duke and a 
delighted and distinguished Ferrara assemblage. In 
th.s beautiful work, simple in plot and style and with 
neither fanciful art nor fire, did Torquato Tasso, the 
man of cultivated mind, of lively fancy and of sensitive 
temper, pour out from his heart a sweet and limpi.l 
strain of pastoral poetry which many Italian sinf .rs 
after him have sought to imitate but none have ever 
equalled. 

He was invited to Pesaro, the residence of the Prin- 
cess Lucretia, in order that the "Aminta" might be 
144 



TASSO. 

personally recited before her. and on his return to 
Ferrara, applying himself diligently to the completion 
of the " Jerusalem Delivered," he had the satisfaction 
of seeing the draft of wha may he considered his great 
life effort completed in 1575, in the form of an epic 
poem of twenty cantos and in eight-lined measure. 

But unfortunately, instead of unalloyed and con- 
tinued ^ood fortune attending this happy consumma- 
tion, his real troubles were only now begiiming. In 
every walk of man's existence the successful usually 
incur the envy and suffer the petty slanders of those 
they have surpassed in life's race. And so it was with 
Tasso. Jealous intriguers and courtiers, feeling their 
own inferir y in comparison with his success and 
popularity, iter his " Aminta," began to plot against 
and underi.iine the poet with his patron, fearful lest 
the brilliancy which the " Jerusalem Delivered " would 
attract to its author should entirely extinguish their 
own prospects. Guarini and Pigna, his contempor- 
aries, were especially stirred to their most venomous 
depths. Tasso, in the face of these attempts, resolved 
to publish his great work dedicated to the Duke, and 
then to retire to Rome, where he could look for another 
natron. i)erhaps equally illustrious and more friendly 
IP. 10 145 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

to literary effort. In tlu- meantime he had submittcfl hi< 
tvork to different friends in Rome for criticism, and 
had he listened to and been giiidcd by all or most i>f 
these the result would have been a complete emascula- 
tion of the " Jerusalem Delivered." All equally ass.T:l,.,| 
it and each from a different standpoint. One chaif, 1 
it with profanity, another that it was derogatory to the 
grandeur of the crusade, a third that it questioned the 
sanctity of 'he Church. Others, again, set up meta- 
physical objections. One critic wished to expugn the 
episode of Sophroi.ia ani' Olindo and set up the charge 
of over-embellishme,'( md ornanientality. The must 
casual reader of the poem could not fail to recognize 
in the personages of Sophronia and Olindo many strik- 
ing resemblam es to the Princess Leonora and the poet 
himself, and if Tasso really meant these two characters 
to personify his favourite and himself, which is not 
doubted, he must have deeply resented the request for 
their exclusion. 

While he met all these objections with the best of 
arguments, yet to satisfy his critics he yielded on manv 
points and finally the first revision of the " Jerusalem 
Deliv red " was completed by the end of 1575. Hut its 
author felt keenly that many of its best parts had gone 
146 



TASSO. 

and disappointment in the delay of publication also 
seemed to worry him much. He told the Princess 
Lucretia of his intention to go to Rome and at first 
she and also the Duke did their best to <lissuade him, 
the latter from fear that he might lose the dedication, 
which he had now come to look upon as a high honour. 
However, finally convinced that he was only delaying 
the publication by urging Tasso to remain, .Mphonso at 
length consented. The poet was well received in Rome, 
the Cardinal De Medici in particular bestowing on him 
much attention. But nothing seemed to come of the 
visit, the poem was not yet published, and we find 
Tasso very scxm back again at Ferrara and received 
lordially by the Duke in spite of the attentions the 
I>oet had received while away from the latter's enemy, 
De Medici, who even went as far as to make advances 
for Tasso's transfer to his own Court. Rut if he had 
been annoyed by the first revision of the " Jerusalem 
Delivered," how bitter must have been his feelings 
when Antoniano and Sperone reviewed it for a second 
time. The former, as inquisitor as well as critic, 
demanded the exclusion of all those parts relating to 
enchantment and love, under pain of preventing any 
profit from the work, and charged the author with 
147 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



If 



impiety in mingling worldly with holy things in his 
poem. Sperone claimed that the fable was lacking in 
unity, a charge which Tasso felt to be more unjust 
than all the rest. Feeling, however, that these two 
critics were powerful enough to ruin his prospects if 
he antagonized them, and since they insisted in their 
views, Tasso consented with a heavy heart to the 
further mutilation of his " Jerusalem Delivered," and 
tells in his after correspondence of the many beautiful 
things he was forced to exclude, though he did manage 
to keep for a few intimate friends the original poem in 
its entirety. 

It is hardly necessary here to mention other femalc 
attractions which Tasso about this time encountered in 
the person of Eleonora, the beautiful bride of the 
Count of Scandiano, and her equally attractive though 
of course more elderly mother-in-law, the Countess of 
Sala, both of whom had come to Ferrara to participate 
in the town's carnival festivities. It has been asserted 
that the poet fell in love with the younger of the two 
beauties and some amorous madrigals he dedicated tn 
her have been quoted in proof of this assertion. The 
better interpretation f .hese, however, is that they 
were only written to momentarily withdraw attention 
IA8 



TASSO. 



from his more real devotion to Leonora D'Este. So 
also was the madrigal written to Tarquinia Molza, a 
famous beauty of Modena, about the same time. But 
he had further troubles now to contend with which for 
a time diverted his mind from even the most fascinat- 
ing of female enchantments. He heard that his 
" Jerusalem Delivered " was being surreptitiously pub- 
lished throughout the country with no profit to himself 
and doubtless with errors of both arrangement and 
printing which would reflect on the author. Alphonso 
in vain did his best to stop this piracy and ttie dis- 
covery of the fraud had an evil eflfect on poor Tasso. 
He had just recovered from the excitement and annoy- 
ance of an altercation he had had in the palace of 
Ferrara with a prying enemy who had opened a chest 
containing his private papers and with whom he had 
exchanged blows.* The news of the stealing and 
printing of his " Jerusalem Delivered " preyed deeply 
upon his mind, he imagined all kinds of ills were 
impending, even that his enemies intended to poison 



* The ttory bu been told by Mr. Wilde, «n American writer, how 
thii chest contained papera that revealed the mutual love of Taaao and 
Leonora, that it wai brought to the knowledge o/ Alphonio who per- 
fuaded Taaso to pretend that he waa mad and that the latter yielded, 
thinking to aid hie unhappy suit by ao doing. 

149 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

him and that he had lost favour with the Church In 
heresy. He attempted to stab a servant of the Princess 
Lucretia in her apartments in June, 1577, and the 
Duke, fearing something more serious might happen, 
ordered Tasso's temporary confinement, though doing 
his best to help him and cure him of his strange illu- 
sions. At length his conduct became so strange and 
his complaints and petitions so numerous and annoy- 
ing, that he was forbidden to communicate with either 
the Duke or the princesses. This only made him worse 
and imagining himself abandoned by his best friends 
and benefactors he resolved on flight. He secretly left 
Ferrara in June and selecting secluded and unvisited 
localities for his wanderings and halting places, begged 
his way along without money or change of raiment 
until he reached Sorrento where his sister, whom he 
had not seen since childhood, resided. Fearful of his 
reception he disguised himself as a messenger from 
her brother to tell of the latter 's illness and want, but 
finding her deeply grieved threw off his disguise' and 
was welcomed by a display of deep sisterly aflfection. 
But no sooner had Tasso been welcomed by his sister 
and benefitted in health by the variety and beauty of 
his surroundings at Sorrento than a strange longing 
150 



TASSO. 






overcame him to be back again at Ferrara. The Duke, 
after much intercession, agreed to receive the prodigal 
again, but under such haish terms and a refusal to give 
the poet his manuscripts and writings, that Tasso this 
time only stayed there a short time. 

We next find him wandering in turn to Mantua, 
Padua and Venice, then to the Court of Urbino. Dis- 
satisfied even here, though kindly received, he passed 
on to Piedmont and Turin but his restlessness of mind 
seemed to prevent him from settling down at any of 
thesf places in spite of the many offers of assistance 
proffered. A longing to again see his old friends at 
Ferrara and the hope of even yet being able to recover 
the fruits of his literary labours seem to have impelled 
him to approach the D'Estes for a third time. Alphonso 
was about to be married and, being in good humour, 
once more gave his consent to the appeals made on the 
wandering poet's behalf. It was hardly to be expected 
that the suppliant would be received with open arms 
after the treatment he had previously accorded his 
patron. The ministers and servants received him with 
indifference, some with open rudeness, and the family 
themselves were too much occupied with the wedding 
preparations and festivities to pay any attention to the 
151 



II, 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

poet whatever. Angered at what he considered insuh- 
ing treatment. Tasso broke out into open revolt and 
abuse of the whole D'Este family. This, coming to the 
ears of the Duke, could have but one effect, his deter- 
mination to place the disturber where he could be no 
longer a source of annoyance, and Tasso found himself 
a prisoner in the hospital asylum of St. Anna. Deep 
and strong were the agonized cries of the caged bird 
for freedom, but to no purpose. Pathetic and beauti- 
ful were the appeals he made in verse to both the Duke 
and his sisters for his release but all went unnoticed 
and were alike ineflfectual. The same result followed 
the entreaties made by influential personages of other 
courts. The Duke was immovable and in this dun- 
geon, though relieved occasionally by the mediation of 
kmd and influential friends and given now and then 
short intervals of guarded liberty, the poet remained 
for over seven years. It has been suggested that 
Alphonso. fearing reprisal through the prisoner's pen, 
or that Tasso, chafing under such long and degraded 
captivity, might do him personal violence, was moved 
to prolong the unfortunate poet's confinement. How- 
ever this may be. on the fervent appeal of Gonzaga 
Prmce of Mantua, who undertook to secure the Duke 
152 



ill 

: 1 ' 



TASSO. 

against reprisal, Tasso left the confines of St. Anna's, 
a free, but broken-spirited man, in July, 1586. 

Although a prisoner all these years his time had not 
been altogether wasted. Mere he wrote his dialogue 
" The Father of A Family " and many verses of love 
and devotion to the two ])rince,sses, the younger and 
more beloved of whom, Leonora, did not long survive 
the incarceration of her faithful poetic admirer. How 
pathetically yet vividly does the great English bard 
who sang two and a half centuries afterwards, himself 
the sad and sorry victim of dejection, of passion, and 
of foiled ambition, express the feelings of poor Tasso 
while enduring all these tortures of long imprisonment 
and unrequited love : 

" They called me mad — and why ? 
O Leonora wilt Ihou not 'epiy? 
That thou wert beautiful and I not blind 
Hath been the sin which shuts me from mankind. 
But let them go, or torture as they will, 
My heart can multiply thine image still. 
Successful love may sate itself away, 
The wretched are the faithful — 'tis their fate 
To have all feelings, save the one. decay 
And every passion into one dilate, 
.A.s rapid rivers into ocean pour, 
And ours is fathomless and hath no shore. 



153 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



Ves. Sister of my Sovereign! for thy sake 

I weed all bitterness from out my breast. 

It hath no business where thou art a guest. 

Thy brother hates — but I can not detest. 

Thou pitiest not — but I can not forsake. 

I found the thing I sought — and that was thee, 

And then 1 lost my being, all to be 

Absorbed in thine — the world was passed away. 

Thou didst annihilate the earth to me. 

And thou Leonora ! Thou who wert ashamed 

That such as I could love, who blushed to hear 

To less than monarchs that thou couldst be dear. 

Go tell thy brother that my heart untamed 

Adores thee still ; and add — that when the towers 

And battlements which guard his joyous hours 

Of banquet, dance and revel are forgot, 

Or left untended in a dull repose. 

This, this shall be a consecrated spot ! 

No power in death can tear our names apart 

As none in life could rend thee from my heart. 

Ves Leonora! it shall be our fate 

To be entwined forever — but too late." 

Tasso's efforts, too, while a prisoner at St. Anna's 
had been bent towards the amelioration of the wrongs 
inflicted on him by the publication during his confine- 
ment of his ** Jerusalem Delivered " by Malaspina and 
154 



TASSO. 

others. While he derived no pecuniary benefit from 
this surreptitious exposure and sale of the best et!ort 
of his genius it yet brought him a large measure of 
fame, better attention in his incarceration, and visits 
and presents from influential, learned and well wishing 
personages. In 1582 his " Rime " was published and 
between this year and the date of his obtaining his 
freedom he watched calmly from his cell at St. Anna 
and ably defended himself in the great controversy 
which arose throughout all Italy between the Delia 
Cruscan school, who championed the works of Ariosto, 
as against those who upheld Tasso, although the latter 
never denied that he had been inspired by Ariosto's 
works. 

He went with his liberator to Mantua in 1586 and 
for a time enjoyed a respite from all the cares and 
bitter remembrances of the past. No one could have 
shown a broken-hearted man greater attention and 
kindness than the distinguished Mantuan bestowed on 
Tasso. He again visited Naples and Rome and though 
inducements were held out to him to join the Neapoli- 
tan Court he preferred to retire to the Monastery of 
Mount Oliveto. There, in the companionship of his 
young friend and future biographer Manso (after- 
155 



ij 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

wards the friend of Milton) at the latter's elegant 
palace and garden near Naples, the time passed pleas- 
antly though marred by occasional outbreaks of 
melancholy and hallucination on Tasso's part. Storie.s 
are also told how about this time he lowered himself 
by composing, for any one that desired it, any kind 
of flattery for money or other sordid consideration. 

In 1589 he visited the Monastery of St. Maria Nuova 
at Rome, where he rema,ined several months and after- 
wards enjoyed a sojourn at the Tuscan court where 
many distinguished marks of favour were bestowed 
upon him by the greatest of the Florentines. Return- 
ing again to Naples in 1592 he found opportunity to 
complete his " Conquest of Jerusalem " which he had 
begun as a sort of sequel to, or perhaps more properly 
a correction or revision of, his " Jerusalem Delivered." 
This work never equalled the former in popularity 
although its author always claimed more merit for it 
than its predecessor. Having eliminated every word 
in praise of the Estensi from it, and having dedicated 
this last work to Cardinal Cinthio, a nephew of Pope 
Clement the Eighth, Tasso now received a papal invi- 
tation to Rome which he accepted. >:otwithstanding 
his Ulysses-like habit of wandering from place to 
156 



TASSO. 



place and never being long satisfied, he would most 
likely have remained there had not inroads upon his 
health induced him to return to Naples. Tasso always 
seemed to think, like Virgil long before him, that 
Naples agreed better with his health than Rome. But 
the influences and attractions of the papal court proved 
too strong an allurement, coupled as they were with 
the promise of a public coronation in the Capitol. 
Since Petrarch's time this honour had been conferred 
iin no Italian poet, so in spite of his ill health Tasso, 
itill ambitious of worldly fame, entered Rome in pomp 
in November, 1594. Not only the highest honour, but 
pecuniary advancement and ease, seemed to come to 
him now all at once. A pension from the pope awaited 
him and the prince Avellino, who was in possession 
of his maternal estate, agreed to allow him an annual 
rent charge which would make him independent. 

Owing to unseasonable weather the, coronation was 
postponed till the spring, but this final triumph and 
honour the great poet was not destined to see, nor was 
he to benefit long from his improved financial condi- 
tion. Feelin, return of his disorder and that his 
end was near, . ■ received permission from his illus- 
trious friends to retire to the Convent of St, Onifrio, 
157 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

on the hillside of the Janiculutn, where he died on 
April 25th, 1594. From his lips, as his soul took its 
departure, were uttered the well-known words of 
Psalm xxxi, verse 6, which have soo hed the dyins 
moments of so many fervent believers, beginning: 

" In Manus Tuas Doinine." 

Near the Convent door may still be seen the gnarled 
old oak where Tasso often reclined during his illness 
and from which he viewed the beauties and contem- 
plated the past glories of the Eternal City. 

Like many other illustrious men who have followed 
poetry and letters Tasso received after death far 
greater honour, and homage than was ever accorded 
him in life. All Rome rang with his praise and his 
renown. The laurel and the toga, which were not to 
be his in life, adorned his remains as they were borne 
by torchlight through the streets of Rome and an ele- 
gant monument, though after eight years of delay, was 
erected in the Church of St. Onifrio, not by his friend 
Cinthio who had promised it, but by the Cardinal Boni- 
face Bevilacqua of Ferrara. But Tasso's works had 
made all other monuments superfluous. If he has to 
give place to any epic poet before or after him the only 
158 



TASSO. 



three are Homer, who perhaps excels Tasso in sim- 
plicity and fire ; Virgil, to whom he ma/ have to yield 
the palm in tenderness (though Mr. W'iffen, in one of 
the copious notes to his admirable translation, declines 
even in the teeth of such authoritie-i as Boileau and 
Addison, to yield the palm to Virgil in any single par- 
ticular) and Milton, who may rank higher than Fer- 
rara's bard in sublimity. Tasso certainly leads both 
Virgil and Milton in at least one great point, that of 
lontinuity of interest and episode. With the beauti- 
fully-told story of the " Jerusalem Delivered " it may 
be said, as with the divine Homer, that it maintains its 
interest to the last and that, unlike the long poems of 
Spenser and Ariosto, there is nothing tedious in the 
Story of the Crusade. Even the great German Goethe 
has paid Tasso magnificent tribute in the lyric drama 
named after him. 

He is the poet who first introduces sentiment into his 
verse and it is this refined feeling for woman which 
breathes throughout all his episodes in the ' Jerusalem 
Delivered " and the life-like portrayal of the noble 
exploits and sacrifices of the converted pagan heroines 
of the story which, more than anything else, give it its 
unquestioned place as the first epic of mediaeval or 
159 



THE GREAT POETS OE ITALY. 

modern Italy. What can surpass in pathos, in remorse 
or in graceful melancholy this description of the duel 
between the lovers Tancred and Clorinda and the bap- 
tism of the latter by the former ere she yields her last 
expiring breath. I quote from Mr. Wiffcn's Spen 
serian translation : 

But now, al&s, the fatal hour arrives 

That must ihut up Clorinda's life in shade; 

In her fair bosom deep his sword he drives; 

'Tis done — life's purple fountain bathes the bladel 

The golden-flower'd cymar of light brocade, 

That swathed so tenderly her breasts of snow, 

Is steep'd in the warm stream : the hapless maid 

Feels her end nigh ; her knees their strength forego ; 

And her enfeebled frame droops languishing and low. 



in 



% 



He, following up the thrust with taunting cries, 
Lays the pierced Virgin at his careless feet; 
She. as she falls, in mournful tones outsighs, 
Her last faint words, pathetically sweet ; 
Which a new spirit prompts, a spirit replete 
With charity, and faith, and hope serene, 
Sent dove-like down from God's pure mercy-seat, 
Who, though through life his rehcl she had been. 
Would have her die a fond, repentant Magdalene. 

160 



TASSO. 



"Friend thou hait won; I p^rdoi. Ihw, anil O 
Forgive thou me I I fear not for this clay, 
But my dark sou!— piiy for it; and bestow 
The sacred rite that laves all stains away :" 
Liite dying hymns heard far at close of day, 
Sounding I know not what in the sooth'd car 
Of sweetest sadness, the faint words make way 
To his fierce heart, and, touch'd with grief sincere, 
Streams from his pitying eye th' involuntary tear. 

Not distant, gushing from the rocks, a rill 

Clash'd on his car ; to this with eager pace 

He speeds — his hollow casque the watcis lill— 

And back he hurries to the deed of grace ; 

His hands as aspens tremble, while they raise 

The lock'd avcntayle of the unknown knight ;— 

God, for thy mercy; 'tis her angel face! 

.^ghast and thunderstruck, he loathes the light ; 

Ah, knowledge best unknown! ah, too distracting sight. 

Vet still he lived ; and, must'ring all his powers 

To the sad task, restrain'd each wild lament. 

Fain to redeem by those baptismal showers 

The life his sword bereft; while thus intent 

The hallowing words he spoke, with i .vishment 

Her face transfigured shone, and half apart 

Her bland lips shed a lively smile that sent 

This silent speech in sunshine to his heart : 

" Heaven gleams ; in blissful peace behold thy friend depart I" 

r.P. U 161 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

A paleness beauteous as the lily's mix'd 
With the sweet violet's, like a gust of wind 
Flits o'er her face; her eyes on Heaven are fix'd, 
And Heaven on her returns its looks as kind : 
Speak she can not ; but her cold hand, declined, 
In pledge of peace on Tancred she bestows ; 
And to her fate thus tenderly resign'd. 
In her meek beauty she expires, and shows 
But as a smiling saint indulging soft repose. 



It has been suggested that the author in this pathetic 
description of the baptism and death of Clorinda at 
the hands of Tancred intended to personify himself and 
Leonora D'Este, the latter having died from grief at the 
exposure of her love for the poet. That Tasso copied 
from other poets, especially from Virgil, has never 
been disputed but he had his own inimitable method 
of portrayal. His personages are living portraits and 
like those of Homer and of Shakspeare there is no 
sameness, his whole poem abounds in variety of char 
acter and incident. 

Torquato Tasso, we are told, was a man of large 

stature, of fair but pallid complexion. His hair was 

brown, his eyebrows black, his eyes of a vivid blue, 

his nose and mouth both large. He had all those 

162 



TASSO. 

attractions so winning with the beautiful women of 
his time — ^bodily strength, charming manners, varied 
accomplishments and open disposition. Strength, 
beauty, genius, purity and honour all were his. His 
voice wa.s clear though his conversation was slow and 
impressive. His character was above reproach, he was 
faithful, candid, courteous and frank, patient in mis- 
fortune and pure in life and conduct. He was simple 
in his dress and preferred retirement to the noi.se and 
hustle of the world. His intellectual endowments were 
vast and his great ambition, the attainment of which 
was fully vouchsafed to him, was to excel in poetry, 
'ad Tasso been granted a longer life than his com- 
jiaratively limited space of fifty-one years it is hard to 
estimate to what greater heights in philosophy as well 
as poetry he might have attained, for the mental 
capacity to accomplish almost everything the human 
mind can embrace was surely his. Suffice it to say 
that he lived long enough to stamp on the poetry of 
Italy a delicacy and elevation of tone not found in 
the works of Dante and lacking also in Boccaccio and 
.■\riosto. Like his master, Virgil, he knew how and 
when to suppress the unseemly and the vulgar both in 
word and thought. " Jenisalem Delivered " with its 
163 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

chief hero Godfrey De Bouillon, and its noble ami 
melodious verse is a work abounding and continuing 
in purity of conception and loftiness of Christian 
effort. It marked the close of a line of manly and 
firm Italian poetry which was unfortunately to give 
place for a long period to the weaker and nerveIe-> 
pastoral efforts, imitative but nowise the equal oi 
Tasso's " Atninta " which came from the pens oi 
Guarini, Marini and Tassoni and their ambitious Uv 
comparatively placid and feeble successors. LUnif- - 
fully assailed by his enemies and rivals. Tasso's hij:' 
character and piety prevented the accompli shmeir oi 
their efforts to soil his good name, though his life oi 
mingled glory and sorrow was one of the saddest that 
it is the biographer's task to tell, of one of the world'* 
most dazzlingly brilliant men. 

In an age highly venal and degenerate, that piety, 
too, enabled him to surmount the many temptation- 
open to him to a Ufe of worldliness and corruption and 
to accept cheerfully the darkness of his fate " as 
night, which, though liiding the charms of the world, 
does but reveal the beauties of the sky." 



im 



TASSO. 

TO TASSO. 
I. 

Torquato ! in whose person rose 
The pride of old Bergamo's line 

Ambition's triumphs, failure's woes. 
Glory and sorrow, both were thine. 



The darling of a ducal court 
The life of Leonora's bower 

Condemned with madmen to consort 
In weird St. Anna's gloom to cower ! 

III. 

There seven sad and fretful years 
For thee their weary cycles ran, 

Unheard thy murmurings, thy tears 
Unheeded till the Mantuan 



rv. 

Oonzaga, generous prince and mild. 
With cruel D'Este fervent pleaded 

Hho. scorning to be reconciled. 
Yet now thy prayer for freedom heeded. 
165 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

V. 

Yet even there thy pen could tell 
The story of the great crusade, 

Though heavier still the blow that fell 
When pirate hands on it were laid. 



And others reaped what thou hadst sown 
The fruit of many a toiling year 

The tale of brave De Bouillon 
The Cross's bold gonfaloniere. 



O bard divine, was't despite cold, 
Was't love unanswered made thee roam 

And, like Ulysses, face the wold 

The prince of song without a home' 



Did Leonora rend thy heart 

With weak response or greeting chill ; 
Or did thy foiled ambition smart 

'Neath some unseen yet greater ill ? 

166 



TA&SO. 

IX. 

Which made thy burdened spirit break 
Beneath its load of gathering woe. 

And drove thee sanctuary to make 
The precincts of Onifrio ? 



Sorrento! thnii gav'st Tasso birth. 

Ferrssra! thou his woes Ijegan. 
Rome ! lihou thy papal pomp put forth 

To crown the great Ausonian ! 



But death stepped in, no not for him 
Clement's and Cinthio's faihng bay- 

A laurel his which doth not dim 

iiat brightens with the length of days ! 

xn. 

So sculptor's art could e'er auf;nient. 
Mo garland add to his renown, 

Hm w<iTk« his noblest monument 
Mis poetrN' a deathless crown ! 



167 




VITTORUI AI.riKRI. 



PART VI. 



ALFIERI 



169 



f 



ALFIERI 



yUlorio Aiaeri, born at Asti in Piedmont. January tjth, 
1749- Died at Florence. October 8th. 1803. 

It is a far cry both in point of time and in the nature 
of what they accomplished for Italian poetry and let- 
ters from Ariosto and Tasso to Alfieri— from the 
smooth flowing cadence, the mellifluous and easy style, 
the varied wit and humour of the gentle poet of 
Reggio and from the stanzas of the serious, melan- 
choly, ideal-seeking author of the " Gerusalemiiie 
Liberata" each in his turn in the i6th century the 
slave and the tool of the lords of Ferrara, to the fiery, 
impulsive, ungovernable reviver of Italian dramatic 
art, bom of a wealthy and noble Piedmontese family 
at Asti in 1749. 

During this hiatus of about two centuries Italian 
poetry and in fact all Italian literature had sunk to a 
very low ebb. True, the great literary chasm had been 
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THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

bridged over in a kind of way but the structure was 
weak, imitative and artificial. Guarini had contributed 
his " Taster Fido," a pastoral abounding in immorali- 
ties and largely copied from the ancients. The ton- 
sured Tassoni had produced a witty and interesting 
but far-fetched and coarse mock-heroic entitled " The 
Rape of the Bucket " founded on some incidents of 
the Italian Civil Wars of the 13th century and had 
attempted by his satirical thrusts to add a little anima- 
tion and virility to his country's quickly-decaying 
verse. Filicaja, the aristocratic Florentine Delia 
Cruscan, who appeared like a small oasis upon this 
poetic desert in 1642, wrote an occasional patriotic 
sonnet and enlivened the torpidity of his surroundings 
for a brief period by his stirring " Odes to Victory " 
after the King of Poland had hurled the encroaching 
Turks from the ramparts of Vienna. Metastasio, the 
son of the Italian peasant Trapassi, had secured for 
himself and his country a certain measure of fame in 
the field of lyric and drama but he had retired early in 
life to Vienna and his best efforts can hardly be 
credited to Italian poetry. Casti, who had travelled 
with foreign embassies to nearly all the famous courts 
of his day and had been a close observer of the 
172 



ALFIERI. 



intrigues which were usually indulged in by royalty 
and those in attendance on it, had unmercifully flayed 
and exposed in his mock heroic " The Talking Beasts " 
the shams, the treachery and the ingratitude of kings 
and those occupying the seats of the mighty, the places 
of emolument and power. But the wars of the Spanish 
Succession had involved nearly all the provinces of 
the Italian peninsula, whose sovereignties were being 
continually bartered and exchanged without the least 
attempt to consult or consider the wishes of their 
peoples. The new rulers oppressed and debauched 
the territories of which they were supposed to be the 
governors and protectors. Lettered and scholarly men 
felt that under the tyranny of Spanish dominion there 
was nothing of high national art or of culture worth 
the striving for. 

The period of the " Secentismo " headed by Marini, 
with all its artificialities and conceits, with all its Delia 
Cruscan dissections and ramifications, had been fol- 
lowed by a school of poetry of an exactly opposite and 
reactionary line of thought, that of the Arcadians, with 
their feeble and puerile simplicities. Each had con- 
tributed to the impoverishment and exhaustion of 
Italian verse, both lyric and dramatic; the former by 
173 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

its bombast, its fantastic details, its pretty trifles, tin- 
latter by its pettiness and its effeininacy. 

Galileo, though in prose, was the first contributor to 
a new and higher order of things in Italian literature, 
combatting as he did with his precise and easy and 
elegant style and diction the excessive rhetorical o.-nate- 
ness of the first of these two schools of poetic expres- 
sion and the weakness and artlessness of the second. 
Then came Parini. with' his onslaughts against the exist- 
ing self-indulgences and trifles of the times. As a caustic 
satirist he exposed, in plain but delicate irony, the 
frivolities and futilities of the degenerate aristocracy 
of his day. And while Parini was indulging in these 
flights of satire the Venetian Goldoni was laying the 
foundation for dramatic reform by introducing on the 
Italian stage the comedy of character instead of that 
of imitation. So that it may be conceded that the 
inventive originality of these three men Galileo, Parini. 
Goldoni, each in his separate field, nurtured and 
encouraged by a feeling of love of liberty and equality 
akin to that which was at the same time sowing and 
fostering the seeds of revolution in France, was grad- 
ually leading to a popular demand for a new Italy and 
an awakening civilization. To this intellectual revival 
174 



W\ 



ALFIERI. 

built upon the ancient literature and the patriotism of 
their country the dash and brilHancy of Alfieri and 
the genius of himself and those who immediately fol- 
lowed him were to add the superstructure and to bring 
to fruition the good seed that the three earlier workers 
had planted and watered so well, 

Vittorio Alfieri was a great traveller and no sooner 
had he broken away from his school at Turin, which 
he did at fourteen, than he, with a tutor and a train 
of servants (for he was rich, having inherited by this 
"me a vast landed property with its retinue of 
domestics) visited nearly all the large Italian cities, 
H,s tour did him little or no intellectual good however, 
for having declined to accept any more than the most 
rudimentary education, he w nothing of the dia- 
lects spoken at the diflerent places he visited, nor of 
cultured Italian itself. His home tongue was a local 
patois, the only other language he attempted being 
very indiflferent French. But it seemed that so long 
as he could get away from the old-fashioned restraints 
and the annoying and confining conventionalities of 
his Piedmontese home it was all he wanted. So he 
started again almost immediately after returning from 
his Italian tour, on this occasion unattended, and with 
17S 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



f i 



France, England and Holland as his objective points. 
This time, too, he had discernment enough to recognize 
his lack of education and knowledge of the languages 
and he determined before ventuiing on another 
journey to become better versed in at least the lan- 
guage and lit< jre of his own country. He took up 
the works of the best Italian authors, both in prose and 
verse, and after devoting some time to these and to the 
study of the institutions of his own country, he deter- 
mined to visit and enquire into conditions in far-off 
lands which Italians rarely reached, among them 
Sweden, Denmark, Russia and Prussia. Before 
returning home he also touched at Spain and Portugal, 
fought a duel with an English officer. Lord Ligonier. 
bec?.nse of too close attentions to the latter's wife and 
returned to Turin only to become involved in another 
amour, this time with the Marchesa Turinetti di Prie. 
But it is said that he had to thank this latter escapade 
for first turning him to the great after work of his life- 
tragedy. Idling away the time one day in the boudoir 
of his then indisposed mistress, he picked up some 
waste sheets of paper and seeing on some of the tapes 
tries in the room scenes from the lives of Antony and 
Cleopatra, he dreamily and carelessly wrote the 
176 



ALFIERI. 

skeleton of what was afterwards tu be his famous 
tragedy called after the Egyptian Queen. Disturbed 
in the middle of his reverie, he hurriedly tucked the 
scraps of paper under the sofa, and did not see them 
again till over a year afterward when he sought and 
found them to add to and complete what he had 
already sketched from the many fresh thoughts and 
incidents that had sprung into birth in his imaginative 
mind in the long interval. Although its author thought 
much of this work at the time and devoted great care 
to its completion and it was successfully presented to 
the public at Turin, he grew to dislike it in after life 
when composing other and what he thought more 
creditable pieces and did not publish "Cleopatra" 
among his authorized works Its chief defect seems 
to have been the unhistoric characterizing of his 
heroine. Instead of painting her as queenly, dignified, 
bewitching and clever, as Plutarch and Shakspeare 
have done, he depicts the temptress of Antony as cun- 
ning, spiteful and absolutely foolish. But this play it 
was, questionable as may have been its real merits and 
success, and however lacking in historic accuracy, that 
ilecided Alfieri to pin his reputation to tragedic effort. 
With what measure of success his country and tht 
world at large now^ know ! 



IP. 12 



177 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



\ii 



He felt that he was sorely lacking in scholarship 
even yet and at thirty years of age began what nio^t 
school-boys start, a course of gran;niar and poetry in 
both the Latin and pure Italian tongues at Sienna, 
which at that time was regarded as the most culf red 
and advanced .seat of Italian letters. I let'; he wrote 
fourteen of his tragedies. While studying at Sienna he 
visited Rome for a brief respite from work and here 
met Louisa von Stolberg, otherwise known as tin 
Countess of Albany, the wife of Charles Edward 
Stuart, the English Pretender. An alliance sprang up 
beiween the two which only the death of the great 
tragedian-poet was to sever and which, notwithstand- 
ing the questionable character of some of its earlier 
incidents, made very largely for the comfort and hap- 
piness and steadying success of Alfieri's after life. 
The Pretender was nearly double his wife's age and 
having become by this time a poor besotted drunkard 
and an object of pity and ridicule to everyone, no 
companion for his wife or any other self-respecting 
woman, Louisa could hardly be blamed for seeking 
solace and companionship elsewhere. She and Alfieri 
soon found their admiration and love for each other's 
society mutual and permanent. A papal bull allowed 
178 



ALFIERI. 

:hc princess to live apart from her husband, and after 
his death shortly afterward she became the acknow- 
IcdRed wife of Alfieri. Following the lady of his heart 
inni place to place, in turn to Alsace, to Paris and 
Florence, he filled up his time in the intervals by 
composing treatises, satires and sonnets beside six 
more of his favourite tragedies. He also tran.siated 
Virgil, Sallust and Terrence and .idded five " Odes on 
!iic .\merican Revolution " to his list of workx .About 
iliis time, Alfieri, feeling his vast Piedmontese posses- 
sions more of a care than an advantage, and their 
management and supervision a drag on his literary 
.imbitions and freedom, yielded them all up to his 
sister in consideration of a comparatively small 
annuity. There is nothing to show that he ever 
regretted this step and no doubt the fortune of his 
princess wife added to his own allowance was more 
than ample for both. 

Alfieri was devoted to horseflesh and used to take 
long journeys to England and other far-ofT places for 
no other purpose than to add to his fine stud. On one 
occa:,ion he led a large batch of horses personally 
across the Alps to Florence. 1 said in beginning that 
the poet, though nobly born, had early evinced a love 
179 



% 



TMK C.REAT POETS OK liALV. 

of freedom and a hatred of monarchical and other 
as he thought— despotic institutions. So when ih 
French Revolution broke out it was only natural th:;: 
his sympathies should go out to the unhappy Frcncli 
peasantry in their Pght aRainst liourbon tyranny ami 
one-man rule. 1 le arrived in Paris just as the Revn 
lution was breaking out and, as the English Wonl- 
worth was doing about the same time, at fiist took a 
symp;-hetic and active part against the monarcbv 
Rut the horrors of the Jacobins, the assassinations ami 
cruelties of Marat and the other butcheis of the linn 
drove Alfieri to the opposite extreme and caused hiii 
to leave France again in 1792. His precipit:.te fli;.,'l 
brought about the confiscation of his property in Pari 
and the sequestration of his books. His experieiici 
in Frai.ce seemed to turn him permanently against tht 
French, and all his writings from this on show t. 
antagonism. He hdd indeed written several works in 
the cause of Liberty and against Monarchy which lu 
now, perhaps like a coward, took care to disavow an! 
to have suppressed. 

Af.er leaving F'rance he .settled down with the lach 1 | 
of his choice at Florence to pass the rest of his day- ' | 
which alas, were not destined to be lengthy. He begai | 
180 ' 



ALFIEKI. 

ihe study of (ireok at forty-cip' t and the last six years 
il his life, outsi :e of the lime dev.jted to ..hat must be 
"Iniittcd to be a very flattering autob: .graphv, were 
^iveii over to the aaiuirinR of poetical and a'aniatie 
excellence iti that ancient tongue. Altleri died of the 
,"mt in Octolier, i8o.f, attended to the last by his royal 
and faithful wife, who at great expense --aused to be 
vrccted that glorious Canovan tomb so much admired 
1» the tourist who visits Florence to-day, placed as it 
-" .M.|""P'-iate!y is. in the Church of Santa Croce, 
l)dween the resting places of the two greatest of 
':alians. 

1 need not refer in this brief summary to Altieri's 
"tbcr poetical woiks outside of his tragedies. The 
later are what he is chiefly, and indeed almost solely 
rnnembered by, and honoured for to-day in Italy. 
Ihere is no decoration in his plays and none of the 
^■•'ttside frills an.l flowery, unnatural descriptions 
usually tacked on to the works of other dramatists. 
1" his efl^orts to adhere to the Aristotelian unities he 
l"t^ out directly in harsh and abrupt, though clear and 
IHire language, and in powerful delineation of dramatic 
'Itaracter. His subjects an taken from both Ancient 
and .Modern history, fron. Mythology and from Scrip- 
181 



Tdi: CKEAT flJETS OK ITALY. 

tiirc. Mis pction is never complicated, lie <li.cs imi 
ciK-umbcr his plays wilh a confusiiiu nimiber of cli,ii 
actcrs, nor are the scenes spun out to include a },'rc:i' 
period of iinic. His theme is usually the cri.elty .,i 
tyrants, their love of crushing nut the weak and tluir 
overbearing display of arbitrary jxuver. .None of hi- 
plots are original. His stories taken from fable aii.l 
mythology had niti ily been treated of before by ilu 
ancient clas.sic drama;ists. I!ut the activity and 
sprightliness of mind of the Italian tragedian and In- 
ability to give a natural and life-like portrayal to all 
his characters enabled him, in spite of his lack .n 
originality, to leave his country many tragic compo- 
sitions that have survived the onslaughts of time. 

There is much difTerence of opinion on the varyin;; 
merits of Altieri's tragedies. His first works are n.it. 
generally speaking, regarded, either in literary merii 
or in portrayal of realistic character, as equal to his 
later productions. Harshness and excessive plainness 
seem to somewhat mar the former. It is doubtful 
whether he ever improved on his Biblical tragedy oi 
'■ Saul " which appeared about the middle period of 
.Mfieri's renown as a dramatist. The reason for thi,- 
may be that the simplicity of the Israelitish surround- 
182 



ALKIEUI. 

ings fitted in wiin the iialurally unadorned word |)or- 
irayals of the dramatist, l.ord Macaiilay is I jh in his 
praise of this work as a imein. Xi'xt to Saul the 
tragedies most inn^ to real life and exhibiting most 
liowerfiilly the dramatic character re " Myrrha," 
"Mary Stuart." " I'olonicc" and ■ I'liilip II." (Jne 
needs only to peruse the first-named of these to get 
an idea of the wonderful c ■ .tructive and imagi'iative 
gift which .Mrteri possessed, lakiiig the plot of Uvid— 
prurient and unnatural ai its best, too immodest by far 
lor decent ears to hear or eyes to behold, a., its original 
author tells the story- -he completely tr tisforms the 
horrible details of the ancient classic int proper and 
natural narrative, yet leaving in it all those pathetic 
and agonizingly-human features so essential to real 
tragedy. His play of lirulus. though strong, depart- 
too much from the actual reco.-ds of history to be 
really meritorious. 

Hut in any event the firm and manly stand Alficri 
took in combatting the languid and prosaic dramatic 
dialogues of his day and his successful eflforts to over- 
come the prevalent degradation of tragic taste caused 
him to be hailed and rightly so as the great, in fact the 
sole, Italian tragic poet of his time. 
183 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

How like our own impetuous and brilliant Byron was 
the great dramatist of Piedmont! The versatile 
biographer could draw comparisons almost ad infini- 
tum between these two, but a few of them will suffice 
here. Both aimed to excel in dramatic art and while 
the Englishman was perhaps too egotistical to ever be 
a great dramatist and too prone to picture himself as 
the hero of his own plays, he, like his Italian precursor 
of half a (.entury, strove in all his stage productions to 
adhere to the Aristotelian unities of time, place and 
action. The chief aim of Alfieri and one of those of 
Byron was the elevation of the tragic stage. Both 
were of noble birth, both losing their sires in infancy 
and becoming petted and spoiled in youth, refused to 
learn at school or to become amenable to discipline. 
Both squandered a glorious patrimony. Both fell easy 
victims to the baser sort of female charms and the lives 
of both are marred with stories of wronged husbands 
and the impulses and intrigues of sensual passion. 
Both were fond of horses and of adventure. Both 
rebels against law and order, were erratic in the 
extreme, and galling under domestic restraint, wand- 
ered from home and country. Neither seemed as if 
they could ever be satisfied with what the life that 
184 



ALFIERI. 

suited the majority of mankind had to give. The 
■ublime and the melancholy fitted to the disposition of 
-each and both hated and fretted under the chafing 
bonds and the artificial restraints of society. Both 
longed and sought for a condition of aflfairs where 
ijovernnient would he freer, sentiment more elevated, 
friendship deeper and love more devoted. Both had 
a defiant and exalted idea of their own importance. 
Both born aristocrats, soon embraced the spirit of free- 
dom and revolution which in their time was sweeping 
over Europe and calling the most adventuresome and 
restless spirits of all lands to serve under its banner. 
And if their lives and early activities were so much 
alike, how equally did the charms of Hellas call to 
both in their latter years, though in entirely different 
ways? The great Englishman, though coming long 
after, died much the earlier in life of the two, actively 
in arms and engaged to the last in his efforts to free 
the Ancient and Classic peninsula from the Turkish 
yoke. The Italian, though dying peacefully on the 
banks of the .Arno, occupied nearly all the last six 
years of his life in the study of the poetry and drama 
of Greece, in translations from her tongue and in 
the composition of comedies, tragedies and satires 
from the treasure house of her rich and marvellous 
mythology. 

185 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



TO ALFIEUI. 



In that dark age when aught of Hfe or worth 
From out Itahan poetry was shorn, 

When false dramatic taste had sprung to birth 
And tragedy was dead with none to mourn. 

Came forth at Asti, he who was to free 

His country's stage from Hfeless pedantry. 



The curse of Spanish sovereignty was rife, 
Marini's poor conceits were ebbing low. 

Old and unreal heroes without life 

Weighted the bombast of " Secentismo," 

And Delia Cruscan nicety of dress 

Had turned to weak Arcadian pettiness. 



Ill 



!-l t 



True, Guarini's pastorals had told 

Poor mimic tales of loves and treacheries ; 

Tassoni, how Modena strove to hold 
The bucket stolen from the Bolognese, 

And Filicaja's Odes extolled the work 

Sobieski did in hurling back the Turk. 
186 



ALFIERI. 

IV. 

Melodious Metastasio at least 
Had won renown in operatic plays, 

And Casti, in his realm of bird and beast, 
Had told in allegoric witty ways 

In mock heroic, what deceiving curs 

W'ere Kings and ministers and courtiers. 



But 'twas Galileo who first corrected 

These weak, effeminate styles in flowing prose. 
Goldoni who false comedy detected 

And strove its imitations to expose, 
Who banished from the stage its mocking blurs 
And ushered in comedic characters. 



VI. 



Parini too, in caustic irony 

Had dealt voluptuousness a mortal blow ; 
And ease and trifling and frivolity 

Before his withering scorn had trembled low. 
How well these three had tilled the wasted field 
.'\lfieri sowed ! How plentiful its yield I 
187 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY, 
vn. 

Panting for freedom, seeking the sublime, 
His youth misspent in unattained desire, 

A wanderer through many a distant dime. 
The language of his country yet to acquire. 

'Twas only at life's noon Alfieri came 

To thirst for drama and tragedic fame. 



Vin. 

Then 'neath his drastic mind and pen there fell 
The chanted langours of the Tuscan lyre. 

His rugged trenchant diction rang the knell 
Of tedious stage prosaists, lifted higher 

The tragic art, to breathe in Grecian mould 

The freedom of the .Athenian bards of old. 



IX. 



How well he conquered unseen difficulties. 
His clear cut tragedies must ever tell ; 

Culled from both old and modern histories 
And Scripture and mediaeval lore as well. 

And, as if needing mightier triumphs, he 

Explores the realms of Greek mythology. 
188 



ALFIERI. 



See Cecri plead with Venus to approve 
Myrrha's betrothal to Epirus' King! 

See portents dread presaging from above 
The goddess' wrath at the unholy thing ! 

How chivalric the bridegroom's sore distress ! 

How genuine Ciniro's bitterness ! 



1<<) Israel! trembling on Gilboa's heights, 
'I'he Philistines advancing all around, 

The gloomy king eacii stir and sound affrights 
For Endor's witcheries and sprites abound ! 

Hark! how the tuneful David strives to call 

From destiny's dark doom unhappy Saul ! 



Watch Royal Philip ! Moody jealous one. 
In league with the inquisitor of Spain, 

Condemn to death his inoffensive son. 
Hear Isabella supplic.te in vain ! 

Thus strips he off the masks of time and place 

And brings real human creatures face to face. 

189 



\1 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



How like to Newstead's bard in various ways 

Was Alfieri ! passionate yet brave, 
A hater of convention all his days. 

To female wiles and blandishments a slave. 
Both born 'mid tottering thrr "s and wars alarms, 
Both titled, drinking deep of freedom's charms. 



: XIV. 

Each lost his sire ere well his youthful mind 

Had learned obedience or di-scipline. 
Each loved to wander far from his own kind. 

Self will and pride swayed each and each was vain. 
Each gloried in factitious self display. 
Each threw a noble patrimony aw^y. 



Each sought a clime of Government more free, 
Of thought uplifted to a higher plane 

Than Albion gave or ruled in Italy, 

Where social barriers could not restrain. 

Of deeper friendship, love more seeming true. 

Than their domestic firesides ever knew. 
i90 



ALFIERI. 



XVI. 



And in their deaths 'twas Homer's land that called 
Her cry of >var and art and song to each. 

One strove to break her Turkish yoke that galled ; 
The other with her Muse his mind to teach. 

And Florence saw him pass away in peace 

Mellowed and chastened by the lore of Greece. 



In Santa Croce's ancient lordly pile, 
V\'here 'ie the bones o many mighty men, 

Where art enriches every niche and aisle. 
Thou sleepest ! Piedmont's gifted citizen ! 

Well guarded there thine ashes and thy bust, 

'Twixt Angelo's and Machiavelli's dust. 



There she who left for thee a princely lin ; 

And saw on thee bestowed in thy last days 
Those honours due the noblest Florentine, 

Reared thee a stately tomb which best displays 
Canova's art. There thy medallion 
The admiring world to-day may gaze upon. 
191 




THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY, 



But Alfieri, though a thousand eyes 

Press daily toward thy tomb down Croce's na 
Though Stotberg's lavish outlay beautifies 

The best Passagno's sculptor ever gave ; 
Thy land remembers thee to-day far more 
That thou her lifeless drama didst restore. 



Sleep on then, Asti's bard ! That ornate tomb 
Well fits thee — to the rich and splendid born 

The fiery pulse and untamed will of whom 
Such rare sepulchral trappings well adorn. 

Thou strenuous toiled, thou gav'st the land thy best. 

Sleep on amid the great and take thy rest ! 



192 



best. 



Iff 




GIACuMO lEOI'ARDI. 



PART VII. 



LEOPARDl 



I.P. 13 



193 



LEOPARDI 






GiiKomo Leopardi, born at Recanali, June i^th. tjgS. 
Died at Capodimonte, June 14th, iSjy. 

I AM concluding this work, or rather this branch of 
a more extensive one, which with time and opportunity 
vouchsafed. I hope some day to complete, by a sketch 
of the career of one of the most brilliant, but withal 
the saddest and most unfortunate of beings, w ho ever 
contributed to the literature of any land or time. Pov- 
erty has b<!en the lot of many of the world's best poets 
and in numerous instances they have struggled man- 
fully and successfully against it, and, defying its chill- 
ing blasts, have attained fame. But in spite of the 
assertions of philosophers and saints to the contrary, 
there is no doubt that the thoughtful and imaginative 
soul who is surrounded with at least the comforts and 
necessaries of life, who has been carefully trained and 
instructed in youth, who can enjoy ease and luxury, 
195 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

reading and travel, who can relieve the monotony of Hit 
by diversity of scene and change of companionship, that 
man, whether it be in the exuberance of youth, the 
confidence of middle age, or in the calm of life's even- 
tide, has a long advantage over others with the same 
natural gifts but not so fortunately placed in the world. 
Opportunities are most assuredly presented to him to 
bring to perfection in form and in thought any native 
poetic genius with which it may have been his rare 
good fortune to be endowed, far and away above those 
of the individual whose hard lot has vouchsafed hint 
none of these benefits. Who would be rash enough to 
suggest that Petrarch or Tasso or Alfieri could ever 
have brought their works and attainments to the high 
plane of success which they did. had they not taken 
advantage of the luxurious and splendid surrounding-, 
and that intercourse with the renowned and the great 
which the youth of each oflfered to these famous Italian 
poets? The choice writings of Addison and of Pope 
were largely conceived and dictated by the style of the 
company they kept, the manners and habits of those 
they associated with and the ease and refinement of 
their surroundings. So were the satires and witticisms 
of Swift. Byron drew most of both his lyric and 
196 



LEOPARDI. 



dramatic inspiration, not from poverty and squalor, 
but from scenes of high life, from the doings and 
actions of those who inhabited the court and the palace. 
Rogers' best productions were planned from his travels 
in Italy and other places where knighthood and chiv- 
alry held sway and from his intermingling with per- 
sons and things socially above him. The best thoughts 
of Tennyson were more or less gathered from scenes 
and incidents in the high and exalted rather than in the 
lower walks of life. Thus I could go on and give other 
instances in all ages and countries where poverty has 
retarded, and opportunity in the form of either wealth 
or social prominence, or both, has developed and 
brought to the highest fruition the poetic gift in man. 
And if the lack of material advantage has hindered so 
much this development and this perfection what must 
we say of the doubly unfortunate individual who, pos- 
sessing to a wonderful extent the scholarly and the 
poetic genius, has not only to fight all his life against 
want, who has no pecuniary assistance with which to 
obtain those things I have just mentioned that can 
mellow and refine and enlarge and broaden his natural 
gifts, but who has also to battle all the time against 
disease and whose dim Hght of life is liable moment- 
197 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



arily to be snuffed out by those trifling attacks of indis- 
position which with most of us go almost unheeded ? 
All countries have had similar instances in their litera- 
ture and poetry of such sad cases of double affliction. 
Keats and Kirk-White are two striking examples of 
brilliant genius baflflod and retarded by both ill health 
and want in our own literature. So too may be men- 
tioned Chatterton and Savage and later on Hood, and 
English poetry has doubtless many other names of 
similar unfortunates. 

Of such too was Giacomo Leopardi, the early nine- 
teenth century Italian poet of the romantic school of 
whom I am now attempting to write a brief memoir 
and who, through the fiery zeal on behalf of liberty 
displayed in his verse, came to occupy the foremost 
place among the group known as " the patriot poets " 
of his time. He was born at the quiet little town ot 
Recanati in the Bologncse district on the 29th of June, 
1798. The family was, like those from whom most of 
the great poets of Italy had sprung, a noble one but 
through the vicissitudes of fortune and the extrava- 
gance of its former heads it had sunk to such a condi- 
tion of financial embarrassment as to make the title 
of " Count " of which Monaldo Leopardi, the future 
198 



l!t 



LEOPARDI. 

poefs father, boasted, an empty and almost a ludicrous 
one. The then holder, if he had ever taken any part 
in the things of the world around him, by the time 
his son Giacomo came upon the scene, had given up al! 
interest in the aflfairs of the nation and bei-'.g fond of 
reading nd study had retired to the recesses of his 
extensive library. Here '.e could dream away m soli- 
tary sadness— he no doubt thought— those few years 
that yet remained to him and reflect on the past glories 
of his race undisturbed by the turmoils and passions 
of social and political life, in neither of which he 
now took any interest or professed any knowledge. 
Giacomo's mother was a clever business woman but 
as the cares of the family and the management of the 
now impoverished estate were thrown entirely u^la 
her she had little time to devote to her clever son any 
measure of that maternal aflfectir- which she may have 
latently possessed. The boy, th jgh stress of circum- 
stances, spent most of his time in his father's library 
and so it was not to be wondered at that he, too, early 
became a bibliophile with a mind warped and narrowed 
down to that little world which radiated from the 
paternal bookshelves. But unlike the sire, there was in 
the son that spark of genius and literary ambition 
199 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

which learning and study were to kindle and finally 
to develop into a name and fame both for scholarship 
and poetry on a level almost with Dante and Petrarch 
and Tasso and the equal of which his country has, at 
least never since his time, produced. With no tutor 
and with no assistance outside of the grammar and the 
dictionary he had obtained at sixteen years of age a 
complete mastery of both the Latin and the Greek Ian 
guages, not only in scholarship but also in his classical 
conception of life and in a knowledge of the antique 
in form and style. He was hardly any older when he 
wrote a history of astronomy, a treatise on the popular 
errors of the Ancients containing citations from over 
four hundred authors, and he had also now begun to 
tun. io poetry in the form of Anacreontic odes. 

How sad it was that while this wonderful advance 
in scholarship and letters was quietly but surely 
expanding the boy's physical growth and progress 
were being entirely neglected! But so it happened 
and when at eighteen young Leopardi produced his 
first great poem " The Approach of Death " his too 
close application to books and study had transformed 
him into a nervous wreck and into a sickly, stooped 
and quite deformed young man. In the " Appressa- 
200 



LEOPARDI. 

mento alia Morte," lost for many years but afterwards 
discovered and published by Volta, may be seen the 
influence of both Dante and Petrarch, the first forming 
Leopardi's model, the other lending him his mspira- 
[ion. And while the young Recanatian had not likely 
ever heard of Shelley although they lived and wrote 
almost concurrently,* a remarkable similarity in 
thought and outline exists in this work to the English 
poet's " Triumph of Life " in which the latter was 
engaged when Spezzia's billows claimed him as their 
prey. I quote three brief extracts from each poem or 
vision to show how closely allied must have been the 
thoughts of both these gifted young men though they 
were entire strangers to each other. These are from 
Leopardi's : 

" A rivulet poured forth its sweet lament. 
The sea shone in the distance and the fields 
And groves, and slowly rising one by one 
The summits of the mountains were revealed. 

The pattering rain drops falling fast were heard. 
The sound increasing as the cloud drew near, 
And round her now the glancing lightning flashed. 



* Shelley was ^'jrn eight years before th« Italian and died too fifteen 
yean before Leopkrdi. 

201 



THE CREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

And folding close her clothes against her breast 
She through the storm her fearful path pursued."* 

And these from Shelley's : 

" I was laid asleep 
Under a mountain, which from u.'known time 
Had yawned into a cavern wide and deep, 
And from it came a gentle rivulet 
Whose water like clear air in its calm sweep 
Bent the soft grass . . . 

Till, like two clouds into one vale impelled 

That shake the mountains when their lightnings mingle 

And die in rain. 



But among 
The thickest billows of that living storm 
I plunged and bared my bosom." 

How like too is the expressed individual spirit of 
dejection which sometimes enshrouded each: the 

* The tranBlation is that of Frederick Townsend, a lettered Ameri 
can bom In New Toric bat who apent much time in Italy. I found it 
in the Chicaio Public Library after a deal of vain elTort in aome of 
our own beat librariea. There la no name to the poem in Mr. Town 
aend'a work. It ia merely entitled ' ' A Fragment ' ' but Lacey Colli- 
aon Morley in hia " Modem Italian Litorature," p. 221, Identifies it 
aa a part of the long-lost " Appressamento alia Morte." He goes on 
to state there that this is the only fragment of Leopardi's early poetnn 
that appeared in the final edition. None of the translatora of Leopardi 
into English that I can find aeem to have undertaken the whole of this 
poem and gome of them have left out the fragment translated by 
Townsend. 

202 



LEOPARDI. 

gloomy young Italian lamenting his own fate and 
that of his country gives utterance to his feelings in 
these words:* 

" Dark death for me no terrors hatli in store, 
To-day but sport appears to me that which this world 
Of fools now praises, now abhors and fears, 
Life's last predestined bourne, 
Let danger come, I'm ready to confront 
Her every threat with smile of unconcern — " 

while the expatriated Englishman, brooding one glori- 
ous noon over real or imagined ills as he sat on the 
shore of Naples' matchless bay, pours forth this sad 
soliloquy : 

' I could lie down like a tired child 
And weep away the life of care 
Which T have borne and yet must bear 
Till death like sleep might steal on me." 

Three years after he wrote " The Approach of 
Death," in spite of his physical drawbacks, young 
Leopardi surprised the literary world in which he 
moved by the production of two powerful political 
odes, one to Italy, the other on the monument to Dante 
at Florence. In both he exposes the deep degradation 



' My Sovereign Thouffht," 



Morrisan's translation, p. 102. 
203 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



in which he feels his country placed by the restoration 
of tyranny and the throttling of freedom. Sadly in 
these two famous odes does the poor, forlorn, ill- 
shaped young bard of Recanati contemplate the politi- 
cal, intellectual and artistic impotence in which the 
torpor of the last two centuries has landed his country. 
In chaste bm courageous language uninfluenced by 
fancy, closely reasoned and without the usual orna- 
ments of metaphor or hyperbole, with classic flavour- 
ing yet permeated with the suggestion of the modern, 
with a .iiingling of Landorian dignity and Byronic 
passion — all till now new qualities in Italian poetry- 
he deplores the manners and the times in which he 
lives. Silently, all unnoticed, and yet surely is the 
young poet in these denunciations paralleling his coun- 
try's unhappy fate with that of his own life — broken, 
disappointed, ruined ! Nor did the wretched condition 
of Italian literature escape his declamatory pen. The 
discovery at the time by Cardinal Mai of some ancient 
manuscripts furnished Leopardi with the opportunity 
of lamenting in a third ode quite as fervid as the last 
two the stagnation of Italy in letters as well as in 
political and military glory. 

Not content with the lasting interest, the profundity 
and novelty of the themes upon which he writes, tlie 
204 



LEOPARDI. 



young poet reveals to the world in these impassioned 
productions the abandonment of the old conventional 
manner of Petrarch and all who had written since, and 
the adoption of an entirely new form and tone for 
those eflforts, in which with clarion notes, he deplores 
the backslidings of his times. 

His father, too closely wedded to the old order of 
things, could see nothing to admire in the new Shellian 
style and form and the classical Tuscan language of 
his clever son. When Oiacomo, therefore, desired to 
leave the sedate and unambitious surroundings of his 
rural home in order to mingle with some of the learned 
minds of the capital, Leopard! senior was reluctant to 
encourage in his son what he thought a waste of both 
time and money. His correspondence about this time 
with the scholar and patriot Giordani shows how 
young Leopardi longed to flee from the morbidity and 
inertia of his home life to something more elevating 
and enlivening, where his learning and gifts might 
receive at least some little appreciation. Giordani had 
been drawn to th '. clever but downhearted youth and 
had tried to encourage him with his interest and his 
sympathy. However, the young poet managed to reach 
Rome in 1822 in spite of the aforesaid paternal objec- 
205 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

tions and once there made the most of his opportuni- 
ties by meetintr and mingling with some of the best 
scholars of his day. But letters and scholarship at this 
period had long become enfeebled at the Eternal Citv 
and Leopardi soon found that it took very little time 
for a deep mind like his own to take in all the wisdom 
and erudition that her .o-called savants could impart 
His purse too, never a long one, had become depleted 
so that he saw no alternative in front of him but t. 
return home. While at Rome he had also met some 
distinguished German scholars and inducements were 
held out to him by them to accept a lucrative position 
in one of their highest seats of learning but this oflfer 
the young poet for reasons not given had declined. 
Had he been able to take orders he might have secured 
public employment at Rome but his religious opinions 
were unorthodox and at this time in the papal states 
the Church formed the only avenue to the public ser- 
vice. Besides this, failing eyesight now gave him such 
serious trouble that for months at a time he had tj 
abandon his studies altogether. At Recanati he found 
that conditions were no more promising than formerly 
although he did manage to bring out during the three 
unhappy years in which he now remained at home 
206 



1H 






LEOPARDI. 

•ome masterful lyrics including " Bruto Minore," his 
londensed philosophy of despair, 

Uopardi moved to Bolognj in 1825 and for a while 
eked out a precarious existence there writing on philo- 
«phical subjects for a Milan publishing house. Shortly 
after this, enlivened and entertained by the charms of 
the Countess Malvezzi, he seems to have come out of 
himself for a time and to have enjoyed a short respite 
from the inroads of that pessimism and hypochondria 
which usually enveloped him. He now appeared as a 
prose writer and though his dialogues entitled " Oper- 
ette Morale " are unreal and stilted and have very little 
of merit in them but their form, in the latter they take 
a very high place and in classicality of spirit, beauty of 
construction and perfection of style, give their author 
almost as high a place in modern prose as in poetry. 
But poverty was again disturbing his plans and failing 
any other refuge, the paternal roof at Recanati, poor 
and dull and unattractive « it was, again appealed to 
Leopardi. Once more returning home, he remained 
there from 1829 to 1831, when by some turn of for- 
tune he found himself in Florence. Here a Swiss 
friend named Sinner undertook to disseminate and 
spread abroad, more especially in Germany, the sickly 
207 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



young poet's works. But though kind and encouragini; 
to his new friend, he sadly neglected and delayed the 
commission he had undertaken so that white ever>- 
thing Leopardi wrote was received with the approba- 
tion it deserved by the small circle whom the poems 
reached he always felt that a much wider field of 
admirers could have been his had the dilatory Sinner 
but devoted more time and attention to what he had 
taken in hand. However, a new edition of Leopardi'; 
works appeared in 1831 containing most of his be$i 
eilorts including " The Resurrection " and " The Song 
of A Wandering Shepherd in Asia." The works 
embraced in this volume seem too to have less in them 
of austerity and of the wail of the pessimist, and dis- 
play a more descriptive and generally a ;:-cner interest 
in ordinary happenings and rise to higher flights than 
any of the poet's former eflforts. 

A love affair shortly after this called Leopardi again 
to Rome but there is no record of its ever having 
ended in anything substantial or serious except tlit 
appearance of a couple of short poems which indicated 
deeply his own wounded pride and a lacerated heart 
Florence again claimed the poor, unsettled, deformed 
poet for awhile and here his friendship for Ranieri, 
208 



LEOPARDl. 






ihe famous author, was formed. Shortly after meeting, 
the two went together to Naples to live. Mere, devot- 
edly watched over by Ranieri and the l., iter's sister, 
although still sorely afflicted in many ways, the poet 
"pent more peacefully than ever before the last four 
years of his Hfe. Ranieri afterwards made himself 
Leopardi's biographer but unfortunately tarnished the 
record of his many previous kindnesses towards the 
ill-fated young misanthrope of Recanati by making the 
biography more a record of his own accomplishments 
than of those of the dead poet. It was in Naples that 
Leopardi wrote his lyrical masterpiece " La Ginestra " 
(The Ginesta) and the famous satire after the form 
of Cast! and in the manner of Homer's " Frogs and 
Mice " by which he is perhaps bett';r remembered than 
in any of his other poems. In the latter he mercilessly 
portrays the hypocrisies and the unworthinesses of 
the foreign tyrants who were at the time misruling and 
debauching his native land. But the " Sequel to The 
Battle of The Frogs and Mice," though clever and 
caustic, is obscured, as far as the ordinary reader 
is concerned, by too many references to local and 
unknown characters. 

Comparatively little more is to be recorded of the 
life and doings of this remarkable though short-lived 

IP. 14 209 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

Italian. It is not a stretch of the imagination to call 
his career a meteoric one, so brilliant was the dash he 
made across the literary firmament of his country, so 
revolutionary and amazing his style and form and so 
short the period in which his life-work was accom- 
plished. He could not longer survive the inroads that 
disease and the buflfetings of adverse fortune had 
brought upon him and died of dropsy at Naples earU 
in 1837. His published works never made a large 
volume and at the time of his death all that had been 
then got together Was very meagre indeed ; there was 
only a mere fragment of the famous " Appressamento " 
then at hand, and its later discovery by Voha in com- 
plete form helped to swell the volume of new and 
unsurpassed verse which this gifted though ill-starred 
son of Italy left to posterity. Yet all told there are 
only a couple of score of Leopardi's poems extant 
which are worthy of the highest praise and some ot 
these are mere fragments. His best efforts were in 
the form of odes but he also successfully adopted the 
soliloquy in some of his fervid appeals to the patriotism 
of his countrymen. His chosen form of expression 
was lyrical but he has also shown that he was no mean 
composer of blank verse. 

210 



LEr MRDI. 



In another part o' 'Uis work I have pointed out in 
how many ways the lrn;;<;dian of 'isti resembled Lord 
Byron. Leopardi, tco hrd niany of the striking char- 
acteristics of the gifted author of " Childe Harold " 
and of " Don Juan." Like him he felt the absence of 
parental sympathy and love, was irritable and gloomy, 
dissatisfied with his lot, deformed in body, passionate 
and brilliant in his meteoric and revolutionary career 
and like him he filled an early grave. Similar too were 
their tendencies to wander, their hatred of tyranny, 
their love of freedom and the philosophy of their lives. 

Leopardi may be called Italy's poet of pessimism 
rather than of hope and there is little surprise that 
this was so. Without the cheering and ennobling influ- 
ences with which his great predecessors in song had 
been surrounded, bored by a dull and unattractive 
domestic fireside, with want and ill-health continually 
to contend with, it would have been nothing short of 
a miracle had he written in any other vein than the 
one he adopted. To him, too, the national future 
loomed up dark and foreboding. Split into petty pro- 
vinces with factions both political and religious striving 
within and the heel of tyranny continually oppressing 
from without, with her beautiful cities pillaged of their 
211 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



treasure and much of her best territory wrested from 
her, there appeared to the serious and fretting youth 
of Recanati no light in the darkness ahead for Italy. 
Could he have peered three or four decades into the 
future and beheld a united and progressive country 
or could he have looked even further ahead and seen, 
as we now see, the land he loved so well joining with 
the other nations of Europe in the struggle against 
Teuton Militarism for world freedom how different 
might have been hi^ whole view of life? Could he 
have only witnessed the present gigantic effort for the 
recovery from the grasping Hapsburgs of Italy's stolen 
possessions, his cry .md his song in spite of his bodily 
afflictions, would doubtless have been like Filicaja's 
or Foscolo's or Manzoni's before him, one of hope and 
not of despair. How he would have rejoiced could 
he have read as we read to-day of his great successor 
in Italian poesy, Gabriele D'Annunzio, flying over 
Trieste and scattering from the clouds among the 
exiles there the greetings of their countrymen, wrapped 
in the white, red and green bunting of Italy, sure 
tokens of their early liberation and repatriation ! How 
his hopes would have risen could he have lived to see 
falling from the .same aircraft on the mihtary build- 
212 



LEOPARDI. 



ings of Italy's hated foe those death-dealing bombs 
which were to warn grasping Austria that her hold 
upon those stolen posseL?ions was nearly over! 

Bp- in spite of all this aiscouragement he played his 
part well. With a reverence for Dante and Petrarch 
and the old masters and an adherence to the beauties 
and classic sublimities of their writings he yet so 
changed by his originality of conception and concen- 
trated energy of diction the whole form and thought 
of Italian verse that men woke on reading Leopardi's 
works to find themselves in a new literary era in which 
brighter and more modern methods of expression and 
construction had j ,., -ded the ancient and the effete. 
True, Foscolo, a sl • ,f years before Leopardi, had 
striven in his poetry to free himself from the old 
classical bondage of the past centuries. In a romantic 
vein he had written much that indicated a breaking 
away from the old models in both thought and con- 
struction. But disgusted with the efforts of himself 
and his compatriots to secure liberty for his country 
under the rule of Napoleon he had retired to England 
and may be said to have ceased in middle life his earlier 
efforts to rejuvenate Italian verse. What he had cau- 
213 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

tiously begun it was left to the afflicted but gifted 
Leopardi to drastically and thort ughly complete. 

It cannot of course be asserted that Leopardi ever 
reached that fruition in descriptive charm, in inven- 
tion, in high lyric flights, in perfection of form, in 
cleverness and humour, in those sparkling displays of 
wit and passion that English poetry was ever then 
revealing in the productions of her great triumvirate. 
Nor had he attained to those heights that Scott and 
Coleridge or Wordsworth a little later on were to give 
utterance to or that the poetic world to-day experiences 
to the full in its best masters. In many of his works 
the critical reader can easily detect a limited range in 
the ideas of their author. But in nearly all Leopardi's 
poetry there can be easily observed at least an adum- 
bration of all those future excellencies in verse which 
we enjoy to-day. Men beheld for the first time in him 
the consecrated spirit of the old, inspired and regener- 
ated by the consummate literary skill, the power of 
observation, the unsurpassed style and melody of the 
new. As Alfieri half a century before had put new hfe 
and vigour into her artificial, slo .-'-moving, decadent 
traged) . so to Leopardi was it given to transform and 
rejuvenate the time-worn, mechanical framework of 
214 



LEOPARDI. 

Italy's lyric poetry. To him then is due the lifting of 
Italian verse out of the rut of amatory and chivalric 
effusion in which for centuries past it had jogged 
along, into that livelier, more melodious, more natural 
channel and into that modern form and style which to 
a very large extent still governs it to-day. 



215 



•nil-: GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



TO UEOPARDI. 



Like some spent meteor "cross the starry sky 

Flashed Leopardi, friendless and alone, 
lust to exist, and scintillate, and di^ 

In conflict with himself and every one. 

He came, this fleeting pilgrim, and was gone. 
This Hellenist in classicality. 

Who yet gave verse its modern forn. and tone, 
Weakling and poor, and still whose fame should be 
Such that his country venerates eternally. 



Italia ! when thy future loomed up dark 

In nationhood, in letters, and in art, 
When tyrants reigned, when Dante and Petrarch 

And all they stood for, had become the sport 

Of a base age and a corrupter heart, 
A voice spake forth from Recanati's walls 

Destined new youth and impulse to impart 
To thy old song, to reinspire those halls 
Where pent-up freedom uttered her unheed;d calls. 

216 



LEOPARDI. 



III. 



Dull was the place, and now alas! obscure, 
Though afflu<;nt once, the line that gave him birth 

By failure forced those hardships to endure, 
Which banish ease and luxury and mirth. 
Parching the fountain springs of real worth. 

And withering genius in its earliest bloom. 
From this decadent lineage sprang forth 

Fretting and fettered, a soured soul from whom 

There spake a wondrous mind beneath a load of gloom. 



Wan and ill-formed, on whom disease had left 
Its hideous traces, on whom poverty 

Continuous frowned, of every hope bereft, 
Groping for light 'mid dense obscurity. 
Could it be wondered that thy poetry, 

O bard of Recanati, breathed despair, 
When all the woes of trampled Italy 

Rose up before -thee, weird and gaunt and bare. 

With naught of future brightness radiating there. 



217 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



How wretched, too, the home that nurtured thee, 

With everything to cloy and naught to please, 
While others saw rare opportunity. 

Thy ruthless lot was not the lot of these. 

To strive with deafness, blindness, and disease. 
And gnawing penury thy changeless fate 

Cursed with life's pains and its deformities 
Thou lived'st, nor was it thine to know the great. 
Nor mingle with the rich, the potentates of state. 



Ifci 



Thou only saw in all thy country's woes 
The mirror of thine own benighted soul. 

Her base betrayers, her intriguing foes 
Were as the vagaries of fate which stole 
Around thee like some mocking caracole ; 

And her discomfiture and gloom were thine. 
For thee, for her, there shone no cheering goal. 

Thou with thine old but fast decaying line. 

She smitten with the plague of tyranny's decline. 

218 



LEOPARDI. 



vn. 



That glorious land of the dim hoary past. 
That matchless, that unrivalled chronicler. 

(If deeds of valour that through time will last. 
Of feats in art and letters that must stir 
Alike the breast of lord and villager. 

Of her immortals how august the list ! 
Scipios and Caesars, mighty men of war ! 

Angelo ! Raphael ! names no years enmist ! 

\'irgil, her prince of song! Hor.5.ce, her satirist! 



VIII. 

How rich in legend, too, that native ground. 

Thou wept-for Leopardi ! Ilia's sons 
The she-wolf suckled, they whose forebear's wound 

lapis healed, how those unmated ones 

The City's founders, like wild lustful Huns 
Rushed on the Sabine maids, how daring lept 

Curtius to death, how safe Rome's legions 
At Regillus the twins of Leda kept 
Who wavering first, at length the foe before them 
swept. 

219 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



IX. 

Soul piercingly her countIes^ beauties too, 
Jolcl thee O bard of what she once had been. 

One cannot chide that still thou lovedst to woo 
This cypress-crowned, this ilex-mantled queen, 
Wisteria twined 'mid grape and olive sheen, 

Her aqueducts and springs, her sacred pool, 
Egerian Clitumnus! Trasimene! 

Nen ■ Mil-nestling I Con.o deep and cool ! 

Ni/r firiev'dst that with such lovely scenes sht could 
not rule. 



But how thy genius lifted high her song 
Which Foscolo before thee tried to raise 

Uf from the dead antique which centuries long 
Had ruled her verse and amorous roundelays, 
Thou wrot'st in novel, sprightly, modern ways 

Before unheard of, men woke to behold 
New style and form to their intense amaze. 

In thy new phrase and in thy diction bold 

A fresh poetic page yet reverencing the old. 

220 



LEOPARDI. 



XI. 



No wonder that thou couldst not tune thy lyre 
To happier flights when hope with thee was dead. 

Thy native land too deep beneath the mire 
Of Hapsburg greed to raise her drooping head, 
The lustre of thy once proud household fled. 

.Vo wonder that the verse thy fancy wrote 
Was saturate with pessimistic dread. 

I' or where hath poet sung in joyous note 

W ith his own future dark, his Country's hopes remote. 



True, there were bright spots in thy sad career. 

Kind Giordan! heard and comforted, 
.\nd Sinner, though neglectful, gave thee cheer. 

With fair Malvezzi ill forebodings fled, 

The Ranieris gladdened thee and led 
The way to Naples and thy day's decline, 

Consoled and solaced in its parting thread. 
Thus Giacomo, 'mid thy soul's repine, 
Some green oases in life's desert drear were thine. 

221 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



Men liken thee to Byron in that he 

Was passionate and deformed, while others say 
Thou sharedst with Landor in that dignity 

Which courted not the frivolous nor gay. 

To me far more than these, thy works display 
The mind of him who passing early gave 

To English verse its hest unchallenged day. 
Who jested at the terrors of the grave, 
And, singing of Life's triumph, sank 'neath Spezzi.i- 
wave. 



Who, soaring with his skylark, saw and told 
The unforbidden things of the Arcane, 

The idealist who, deep peering, could behold 
Beyond the husk the soul's sublimer fane. 
Whose voice supreme in beauty and domain 

Rose upward in poetic ecstas/ 
Away above the things of the mundane. 

The Shelley thou, of downcast Italy, 

.\s kindly, generous, fickle and humane as he. 

222 



LEOPARDI. 



XV. 

O Leopardi ! hadst thou lived to see 

Thy country reunited, cast the yoke, 
Which chained her to her old scrvihty. 

Coiildst thou have breathed when Italy awoke 

To join the world in freedoms l)attle smoke, 
To see her sons for liberty entrain 

To deal the Austrian line its lethal stroke, 
How different then had been thy song's refrain. 
How vanished thy despair, how glad thy muse's strain. 



XVI. 

Couldst thou have seen D'Annunzio from on high 

Scatter to those poor exiles in Trieste 
That message which the flag of Italy 

Enfolded, how elate thy patriot breast. 

- : 'V ouciVd that frctfulness and that unrest. 
Couldst thou have known the grasping Hapsburg smote. 

Thy Country from th' encroaching tyrant wrest 
Her stolen cities, o'er his bastions float 
With her death-dealing bombs, how joyous then thy 
note.* ^ 

WW^'MrtS'™.' hlV?' """'"• O:*"""'". Il'ly'- 'o"n.o., living 
•H.tr "UclKd bj the enemr'i .lr-cr.ft, but retnrned In 

223 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

xvn. 

Yet, spite of all, thou playd'st a worthy part 
In that short life and in thy narrow sphere 

And with rare skill and more consummate art 
Mad'st old forms and conventions disappear 
And a new energy and diction clear 

In Italy's exhausted verse hold sway. 
'Twas given to thee, thou pilot bold, to steer 

Thy country's poesy toward that higher way. 

That more melodious path it journeys in to-day 



k 



224 



PART VIII. 



THE VISION OF DANTE 



IP. 15 



225 



THE VISION OF DANTE 



A Condensed Presentation in Rhyme of the 
" Divine Comedy." 

Se volete saper la vita mia 

Studiando io sto lungi da tutti gli uomini, 

Ed ho imparato piu teologia 

In questi giorni che ho riletto Dante 

Che nelle scuole fatto io non avria. 

(Demandest thou what things engross my mind 

ff'htn loHeliness" dark shadows hover o'er, 

What consolation for the hours I find 

When friends and kindred comfort me no moref 

For sacred lore to Dante I repair 

And find more wisdom than the Schoolmen's there.)* 

nf'Irr;,**''-""'" '°' "" """'' '"P"' »"<' shortcomings 
Of the following transposition is that it was hurriedly nnder- 
laken and composed as an after-thought to the rest of this 

227 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

volume. It was entirely written during August, 1916, without 
the assistance of my library and in leisure moments while I 
was travelling about the country on other pursuits. 

It will be observed that I have framed my account of Dante's 
tragic and fanciful wanderings through the spirit world in 
ten-lined rhyming heroic couplet stanzas, each concluding with 
an Alexandrine. This I thought would vary in a degree what 
some readers and critics of poetic form regard as monotonous 
in continued decasyllabic couplet verse. While Dryden 
approached this form by a frequent use of the Alexandrine 
in his " Translations from Boccaccio " and in the " Hind and 
Panther," I think the exact plan that I have adopted in my 
presentation of the Dantean Vision is new and experimental 
in English poetry and I trust its reception will not be an alto- 
gether unfavourable one. While the form I have chosen gives 
the same extended ending and final sweeping roll as t>i( 
Spenserian stanza, it avoids the complicated rhyming plan of 
the latter that at first approach sometimes confuses the 
unfamiliar reader. I know that I may be accused of literary 
retrogression in adopting for my framework a form of versi- 
fication so admittedly antique as the ten-syllable rhyming 
couplet. But in an age of flighty and unregulated rhyme and 
measure like ours, may not history, as in other things, repeat 
itself in poetry? Marlowe and Nash, and after these Milton, 
it will be remembered, carried literary England with them in 
their denunciation of this form and effectually superseded it 
with blank verse. But how wholly and universally, about a 
century later, did Dryden and Pope and Goldsmith, the first- 
named inspired by the harmonies of Edmund Waller, bring 
the English reading public back again from wild and 
unchecked stanzaic confusion to the worship of the polished 
and regular rhyming couplet I True, the school vih'ih this 
latter trio created and adorned, becoming too conventional, 

228 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 

waned in its turn before the simpler and more attractive 
nature lyrics of Cowper, Burns and Wordsworth and the lofty 
and sensuous stanzaic flights of the other great triumvirate 
of the Revolutionary Era. But since these mighty reformers, 
what anarchy and discord have engulfed the rules of rhyme 
and measure and verse at the hands of modem poetic 
"plungers I" In poetry, as in the more sordid things, the 
modern world may be truly said to have been " carried off its 
feet " by reckless speculation and adventure and to have been 
landed in a veritable ocean of degenerated prosody. Who for 
example, accustomed to venerate or respect well established 
and cherished forms of verse, can detect any poetic style or 
harmony in free and commonplace stuff like the following 
recently published as a sample of good up-to-date poetry and 
given a prominent place and high praise in a leading New 
York literary column : 

" It's funny about tears : 
Once accidentally I broke a cup 

That I had kept a long while because it pleased my eyes 
With its delicate peacock blue colour, 
And I sobbed and sobbed 
As I looked at the scattered pieces 
And thought how they never could be quite the s.-me again." 

Facilis descensus Avenii.—Whit a sorry departure this from 
chasteness of expression, sublimity of thought, faultlessness of 
measure and rhyme and all that go to make the artistic in the 
courtship of the muse! So that when one considers the present 
chaotic conditions in our rules of versification, or more strictly 
speaking, the absence of any such rules at all, the idea easily 
suggests itself that something worse might happen, especially in 
the composition of continued poetic narrative, than a repetition 

229 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

of what occurred in later Caroline and earlier Georgian tim« 
known as the classic period of our literature. Then it was 
that England's noblest bards, to escape the unbridled measures 
Z,, , ""f '■<'"^»n'^ i"Wlar flights of the romanticists, 
aptly termed by Saintsbury "the hideous jn.nble of downright 
prose and verse that was neither prose nor verse," sough, 
refuge once again in the polished symmetry and cadence of 
the rhyming couplet.— Th« Authoe. 






230 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 



HELL. 



About the time of mortal life's midway, 
There roamed in spirit from the truth astray 
Forlorn and helpless like a wandering child, 
A Cacciaguidan, through a forest wild, 
Checked by the valley's growth, torn by the brier. 
He finds a slope and longs to clamber higher 
For in the vale the shades portend the night 
While Phoebus on the mount still lingers bright. 
Thus, glad to leave the woods where shadows creep. 
He searches for a pathway up the sunlit steep. 



11. 
In his heart's deep, appalling fear had lain 
And weary he and racked with toil and pain. 
So dense the gloom he pitiful had passed. 
He joys indeed to find escape at last. 
Yet short of breath, still with fatigue oppressed. 
He turns and views the jungle deep recess'd, 
As the beached sailor, rescued from the wave, 
Stands and surveys what nearly was his grave. 
Then inland wends; so Dante now takes hope, ' 
Moves from the forest gloom and starts to climb the 
slope. 

231 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



> .i| 



But three wild beasts obstruct the n;oitntain pass, 
First, panther Florence doth the way harass, 
Then Charles of Valois, France's Emperor proud, 
In form a lion with his roaring loud, 
And lastly, fiercer, hungrier than this. 
In she-wolf garb looms deadly Avarice, 
The curse of Curian Rome. In deep despair 
The pilgrim bard can see no progress there 
Till Virgil comes and points another way 
Until the conquering greyhound* shall the she-wolf 
slay. 



He who in fable days departed long 

Had gained renown, the Roman prince of song. 

The bard who immortality had won 

In singing oi Anchises' worthy son. 

The gentle Mantuan, comes from Limbo's realm 

To help the pilgrim all his foes o'erwhelm. 

To point him o'er the steep and rugged way 

Till Helfs dark night should end in Heaven's day. 

To stay through demon torments by his side. 

Implored by sainted Beatrice to be his guide. 

* SsppoMd to rein to the libanl y«on«M, Can Onnda doU> Bait- 
232 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 



Now is approached the lofty arch of Hell 
Where words inscribed of " Hope Abandoned," tell 
Where groans and lamentations floating far. 
Brood o'er that dark where gleams no cheering star. 
These utter forth the never-ending woes 
( )f those who, nor th' Almighty nor his foes 
Could please, among them weakly Celestine 
Whom fear his sceptic prompted to resign. 
These, hornets sting, and from them tears and blood 
Trickle to feed gaunt worms who clustered where they 
stood. 



See Charon with his bark draw nigh to take 
The souls condemned across the livid lake ! 
They who beneath God's anger hapless fell, 
Now sentenced in eternal dark to dwell. 
He, with his eyes of fire, collects them all, 
WaiKng, yet heeding close his ghastly call. 
.N'o sooner lands he on the farther shore 
His piteous cargo, than he comes for more. 
Thus the old boatman stem and fierce and rude 
Continuous bears to darkness Adam's evil brood. 
233 



THR GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



ri 



And next to Limbo, Hell's first circle borne, 
That deep abyss they hear with rumblings torn, 
The sighs and murmurings of lost souls whose grief 
Rather than torture tells of unbelief : 
Who lived of old, who had no Gospel light 
To teach them how to serve their God aright. 
And Virgil, that he sojourns here, reminds. 
And noble Homer here the traveller finds. 
And Socrates and Plato, too, he sees 
With Euclid, Linus, Tully and Diogenes. 






And many another shade of mighty worth 
Which yet from Limbo never could go forth. 
These worthy ones, in spite of their disgrace, 
Here hold above the throng an honoured place. 
And here, the ba'd is told, had Adam stayed. 
And Noah in the realms of darkness strayed. 
Here T 'oses, Abram and King David dwelt ; 
Here gioom Erebian Israel's sons had felt. 
Till these for faith and worthy lives the Son 
To bliss exalted and for each a pardon won. 
234 



111 



THE XISIDX OF DANTE, 

IX. 

And fre the travellers leave Inferno's gate 
\V hat further piteous scenes their eyes await- 
Uf neutral spirits whose indifferent ways 
Make them unworthy infamy or praise 
Sharing their grief near the wide Acheron 
\V.th careless angels whose last hope is gone. 
1 he unbaptized. despairing and perplexed. 
They pass, and still descending, enter next 
\\ here Mmos stands to judge each criminal round 
And where those faithless to their wedded vows are 
found. 



These, though least blamed of all the sinners lost 
in a great whirlwind constantly are tossed. 
Here Helen and Paris, driv'n by cruel winds, 
Are seen in anguish ; here the poet finds 
The fair Francesca, daughter of his friend, 
\\ho storm swept, shares her loved Paolo's end 
And now the gluttons' stinking fate is seen. 
Huge rolling weights crush prodigal and mean 
And steered by Phlegyas 'crxjss the Stygian mire 
Js met the drenched Argenti, fallen 'neath anger's fire. 
2J5 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



The gates of Dis now open wide and moans 

Uberti in his tomb of fire, and groans 

Heretic Cavalcaoli for his son 

Yet soon to his hot grave again sinks down. 

Then is the seventh circle reached, that rent 

With shrieks and torments of the violent 

Tyrants and homicides and thieves who stood 

Neck deep in rushing streams of boihng blood. 

Attila, Alexander, D'Este here ! 

While the great plundering Rieneri fill the rear. 






tf 



The centaur Ncssus guides, and now accursed 
The suicides are met, their fate the worst, 
Converted into gnarled yet feeling trees. 
The carrion harpies feed and glut on these. 
Now Capaneus, punished for his pride. 
Is found where raining tongues of fire abide. 
And scourged Brunetto in the usurers' place. 
Whom Dante, loving, lingers to embrace 
And tell his old instructor that 'twas he 
Who taught how man might merit immortality ! 
236 



J 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 



\ow mount they Geryon* of terrific mien. 

.And lowered by him. Hell's circle eight is seen, 

The procurers and adulators first, 

These scourged, those in most loathsome filth 

immersetl. 
Mext they who barter offices for gain 
.And simony and soothsaying maintain. 
Welter in boiling pitch, have living coals 
Eternal burning on their upturned soles, 
Or, with heads backward on their bodies, wring 
Grief from the passing bard at each distorted thing. 



XIV. 

Behold the hypocrites in golden dress. 
Outwardly gay but weighed with weariness. 
For that bright bonnet on each shining head 
Crushes its wearer with its load of lead. 
And he who counselled that The Christ should die,t 
Here on a trampled cross doth abject lie. 
•And thieves are changed to serpents, yet again 
Their viper shapes assume the form of men, 
.And in hot cloaks of close-confining fire 
Those who had counselled fraud find unconsumed 
attire. 

* The penoniflcatlon of the Monster Fraud. 

• Cilspttii. the HItk Prieit. 

237 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

XV. 

The tortures of another gulf proclaimed 

The heretics and scandal sowers maimed, 

All hewn and gashed, these bleeding ones are viewed, 

With severed limbs and entrails that protrude. 

Here is the poet's heart with sorrow torn 

To see the Provencal Bertrand de Bom 

Bear in his hand with grief, his dripping head, 

Disjoined and from its body severed, 

The fate of him who, cruelest of men. 

Had set at mutual war the sire and son of Guienne.* 



n •■-■! t; 




XVI. 

Horrid Malebolge ! in thee too are heard 
The falsifiers in person, act and word. 
Some cry with dropsy's disproportioning pains 
Others with fever parching skin and veins. 
The shameless Myrrha, who her sire decoyed f 
And she who all her charming wiles employed' 
To tempt chaste Joseph, Adamo, who made 
Base coin and Sinon, he who Troy betrayed. 
These last engaging in contention fierce 
With wrangling snarls and gibes the lazar regions 
pierce. 



! SS7 " "* '"f'""! "^ I>1« "on John, 
t OTid. mot. Lib. 10. 

238 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 

XVII. 

And in thee too is Jason tortured, he 
Who drew from virtue fair Hypsipyle 
And Fifth Pope Nicholas who wheii he trod 
Earth's pathway trafficked in the things of God, 
.\nd Grifolino, he for alchemy 
Craidemned to suffer loathsome leprosy, 
With Siennese Cappocchio bitter wails,' 
As each in anguish tears his itching s^les; 
And m thee demons shout and curse and grin 
As standing o'er each wretch they plunge the flesh 
hooks m. 



XVIH. 

Now Nimrod through whom tongue-confusion throve 
And Giant Strivers 'gainst almighty Jove 
They pass, and are by Antseus lowered till 
They reach those doomed Hell's harshest pit to fill 
A vasty circle of four spheres enlaid 
In ice to bind the monsters who betrayed 
Their relatives, their country or their friends, 
And here the vision of Hell's torments ends 
Nor can we wonder that the poet feels 
No sorrow now, but his kind heart 'gainst pity steels. 
239 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



For here in frozen tears, he gazing sees 

His own base Florentine contemporaries, 

So frigid bound along the icy sweep 

Their very weeping suffers not to weep, 

And Lucifer besmeared with foam and gore 

Reigning unchallenged o'er these regions frore, 

He bat-winged and three-headed, feeds upon 

The Arch-Betrayer of th' Eternal Son, 

And Brutus by whom mighty Caesar died, 

With Cassius shares the judgment of the regicide. 




And pleading through his icy veil of tears, 

The friar Alberigo, whose earthly years 

Not done, had been to Ptolomea sent 

To swifter meet th' assassin's punishment,* 

Yet Ugolino, whom Ruggieri slew. 

Here from our bard a sigh of pity drew 

For his poor sons immersed in famine's tower 

AU guiltless starved by priestly Pisan power. 

But lo! even here were retribution's laws. 

For on the prelate skull the victim tireless gnaws. 



* He ■nnmoned loaie of hU brotherhood wUh whom he hed qtiir 
relied, to * benqnet, under the pretenee of reconellletloii, and at i 
giTen elKsal at deeeert, ■eeeaalnt roehed In and exterminated all thi 

240 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 

XXI. 

cursed Cocytus ! in whose frozen sphere 

Those ice-bound souls in varied forms appear, 

In whose hard waves, by wings of Satan fann'd, 

The vilest ones f ncrusted, lean or stand, 

Thou well wert chosen as the fittest place 

For those whom Dante strove to most disgrace, 

Who dwelt on earth their talents to misuse, 

Whose crimes the fiends themselves could not excuse. 

What agonies are here ! What woes condign ! 

And all the other pangs of Hell are mild to thine. 



IP. 16 



241 



( 


if 


;. ■, 




i ■ iV 





THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



PURGATORY. 



Hew, left behind and reared on Satan's thigh. 

The travellers now emerge and view the sky 

And drink the purer air of that new land 

Which Cato guards, and resting on its strand, 

(For still ''is dark), wait for the coming light, 

Cheered by that cross that charms the southern night. 

But soon the shades of darkness flee away 

And all around there spreads the dawning day, 

And washed by dew of hell's impurities 

The bards behold the trembling of the far-oflF seas. 



i • 


1 J 


g-f 


1 




'P 



And Cato wills that they may enter in 
And pass those seven rounds where deadly sin 
Is purged. And lo ! beneath the cleansing hill 
A whiteness and a glory shine that fill 
The sea with splendour. 'Tis the Bird of God 
Guiding the spirits o'er the mystic flood. 
These Israel's freedom sing in joyous lay 
Then landing o'er the mount enquire the way, 
And all, (till Cato chides them,) linger long, 
Charmed by the Florentine Casella's matchless song. 
242 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 



Ere Dante sees the purgatorial gate 

He meets a troop, the Excommunicate, 

And further on along the steep ascent 

The slothful souls and they who late repent, 

Manfredi, who had contumacious died, 

Belacqua, who in life the harp strings plied 

And lonely Pia of the Siennese, 

And Cassero and Montefeltro^ these 

In turn implore the bard and piteous urge 

That intercessions rise their grievous sins to purge. 



And now Bordello's comely shade they meet. 
Who reverent grasps his fellow Mantuan's feet 
And sadly hears the ancient poet tell 
Hov he a pagan must in Limbo dwell. 
He having heard his countryman's weird tale 
Night falling, leads them to a sheltering vale' 
Clothed in fair greenery, here they tired stay, 
Where a great host of careless rulers pray 
Among them Philip, Rudolph, Ottocar 
And two King Henrys, they of England and Navarre. 
243 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



Here Nino's spirit speaks, the night is spent 

And Malaspina predicts banishment. 

But as there breaks the radiance of the morn 

On Lucia's eagle wings is Dante bom 

Upmounting to the purgatorial gate 

Where Virgil gone before, already sate. 

Here three steps lead, and on the last to guard 

The Angel of Contrition with his sword. 

Who brands upon the poet's brow each sin 

And then unlocks tjie gate and lets the pilgrims in. 



VI. 

And while their feet across the portal trod 
There swelled melodious praise to Heaven's God. 
And here perchance befits me to recount 
The seven circles of the purging mount : 
First there are seen climbing its rocky side 
The souls who expiate the sin of pride, 
For these beneath a weight of crushing stone 
Humility's fair angel tries t' atone ; 
Next, clad in sackcloth, see poor Sapia rowed 
Among the envious with each eyelid tightly sewed. 
244 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 



And Duca and Calboli weeping through 

Then- wired impalements dreadful pictures drew 

Ut Komagna s and Arno's fallen race 

Once noble, now degenerate and base ' 

Leavmg the round where only closed eyes weep, 

They, angel-guarded, climb a further steep 

Shrouded in mist, to hear more spirits pray 

For peace and wrath's due expiation pay. 

Here Lombardo deplores the evil hour 

When first there joined the kingly and the papal power. 



VIII. 

And to another circle clambering still 
They see the cleansing of indifference ill 
VV here round a beetling rock are sorely press'd 
feloth s victims made to run and never rest • 
And next the round where greed of wealth'and gold 
Is washed away, the pilgrims both behold 
ihese duped ones with the wasters downward keep 
i heir faces and in deep contrition weep 
Among them Adrian, whose repentant tears 
Atone for all the avarice of his earthly years. 
245 



1 
1 ' 

i 


„ 1 

i 

1 i 




I «? 




- If 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

IX. 

And now while Capet's spirit utterance 

Is making 'gainst the Royal house of France, 

The mountain trembles and the startled air 

Hears " Gloria in Excelsis " everywhere, 

Announcing that from its desire to sin 

Some soul is freed and doth its guerdon win. 

Statins, the shade whose purging now doth end 

And joyous comes to embrace his Mantuan friend. 

From hence the Theban poet with them stays 

And guides and counsels 'long the purgatorial ways. 




A pagan bom, to Statins first sufficed 
The pagan worship, but there came the Christ 
And he embracing firm the true belief, 
Domitian's rage and persecution's grief 
Had helped to share but only secretly. 
For fear compelled and still conforming, he 
A pagan outward lived. This cowardly crime 
Had earned for him a tedious purging time : 
For lukewarmness four cycles here he'd passed, 
But now the angels sing his pardon won at last. 
246 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 

XI. 

Poor starved Forese with wan and sunken eye, 

Atoning for the sin of gluttony 

Now intercepts the travellers on their way. 

Embracing the occasion to inveigh 

Against the flaunting open shamelessness 

Uf his immodest countrywomen's dress 

The bosom bare, the all-uncovered limb 

How bold and unbecoming these to him I 

Who here still lingered tjiough his purging years 

Had been much shortened by his Nellf^s pr'ayers and 



xn. 
While he predicts in language accurate 
torso Donati's violent end and fate 
Lo, two fair trees aloft their foliage shoot, 
Ihis bearing greed's, that temperance's fruit 
And soon is reached the seventh and final ledge 
HTiere cleansing fire redeems the broken pledge 
Uf the mcontinent, « mightv host 
In thirst's consuming torture tried and toss'd 
And. just as day is sinking into night 
An angel points them forward to the' topmost height. 

tv 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



':^ 



But ir^rk t -the man of God demands that first 

Must Dante in the fire be immersed 

And Virgil tells that to be wholly clean 

He must endure the flame, for still between 

Himself and Beatrice a wall doth stand 

Which fire alone can fell. At this command 

He plunges in and lo ! the flaming shore 

Hears the refrain " Blest they whose hearts are pure.' 

And Arnault the Provencal, doomed to pay 

The price of lust, with Guido greets him on the way. 




Night falls, of active Leah's meads and streams 
And Rachel, deep in thought, the poet dreams. 
And now the fires which cleanse the faithless through 
The Mantuan shade bids Dante fond adieu. 
His guide o'er steeper ways and greater stress 
Now leaves him to himself to face the less. 
And as the sun proclaims the morning hours 
He finds him close to Eden's beauteous bowers 
And sees fair bloom and birds of varied wings 
And 'cross a limpid rill Matilda joyous sings. 
24< 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 

XV. 

.She, saintly Tuscan Duchc».<, points afar 

To an approaching lustrous heavenly car* 

Drawn by a gryphon, emblem of the Christ 

With maiden, elder and evangelist 

Full manned, and which upon the farther sward 

Of Lethe halts close to the awe-struck bard. 

And while from the Empyrean overhead 

Upon the chariot bloom was scattered. 

.\ green-robed virgin from the fragrance came, 

Shedding a hidden virtue clothed in living flame. 



XVI. 

Beatrice the blest ! the dazzling form is hers. 

Surrounded by her heavenly quiristers, 

She first on him with visage stern doth look 

And cruel utters sarcasm's cold rebuke, 

" Why, fickle Dante, didst thou ever stray 

To earth's deceits from heaven's holier way ? 

Thou canst not for thy sins approach me here, 

Without avowal and repentant tear. 

Dost thou these prievous failings full confess ?" 

The crying, pardon-seeking suppliant falters " Yes.' 



' The ChrlitUn Church. 



249 



'I'lIK OREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

XVII. 

She further chides, reminding how he fell 
When she had left terrestrial scenes to dwell 
Above. But watch the contrite sinner sink 
To earth and over him at Lethe's brink 
Matilda stoop and draw him through the tide 
And safely land upon the other side, 
With sin's remembrance wholly washed away, 
To hear the heav'nly nymphs to Beatrice pray. 
Her second beauty to him just immerst 
T' unveil and quench the suppliant's ten years' burning 
thirst. 



XVIII. 

Now risen from the Lethan waters, he 

Hears angels chanting " Tu Asperges Me." 

The heavenly concourse moving sees arise 

A mighty tree upbranching to the skies.* 

The tree and car Jove's dreadful lightning licks ; 

A fox, the treachery of heretics. 

Jumps on the car his hunger to appease ; 

An eagle spreads his feathers over,t these 

Scarce happen when a dragon from beneathj 

Tears at the chariot's bottom with his ravenous teeth. 



* The Roman Emplrt. 

t Tke flfu of COBitutlne. 

t H«hoin«t. 



250 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 

XIX. 

•And perched beyond th' asseniblapi. far above 
A harlot* and a (fiant huget make ,■ vc 
l!ut now at saintly Beatrice' conr rind 
.Matilda takes the pilgrims by the hand 
And Tuscan bard and Theban disappenr 
In Eunoe's reviving waters clear, 
Which, rising from a common fountain source. 
With Lethe now pursue an adverse course, 
•And serve a diflferent purpose, bring again 
Remembrance of forgotten virtues back to men. 



XX. 

Thus was our poet tried, thus stern reproved 

By her who, while reproving still had loved, 

•And having passed in deep humility 

Before the lustrous car, the towering tree 

To him that veilM beauty long concealed 

Of his adored, was now in full revealed. 

Washed by those streams which sins eliminate 

•\nd thoughts of virtuous deeds anew create. 

His burdens left behind, his faults forgiven, 

Hesoars with his beloved and with her enters Heaven. 

• n. Church dtgradad hj Bonlftn VIII 
t Philip IV of Fruc*. 

251 



i- 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



PARADISE. 



To those celestial, bright, untravclled spheres 

They now are borne where, wafted on the ears, 

Come harmonies so fauhless, so benign 

They hold the very ear of the Divine. 

On lightning wings they sweep the universe, 

Viewing each heavenly planet in their course, 

These in alignment so com te, unflaw'd 

As to portray their great Crc^^tor, God : 

And humbly doth the transformed bard confess 

How poor are human words to paint such loveliness. 



^m 


! 
1 







I?y that magnetic force 'yond man's control, 

Which draws above the freed yet yearning soul, 

They circle through a fiery realm and soon 

Are in the pearly heaven of the moon, 

And as they gazed, pale faces at them smiled, 

Whom failure of their vows had here exiled, 

Yet happy these, nor striving to aspire 

To more exalted state or heaven higher, 

For now they from ambition find release 

.*.nd in the Will of Him Who placed them here, their 

peace. 

252 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 

III. 
Mong these were Piccarda, whom Corso bore 
From cloistered walls, and from whose body tore 
The sacred vestments ; royal Constance too, 
By force constrained the nunnery to eschew. 
■Is it," the poet asks, " quite just and fair 
That these the lesser joys of heaven must share, 
With mtent of the best, yet backward thrown 
liy violence nor choosing of their own ?" 
His guide replies: " These kept the earthly track 
And obdurate, did not. though they might have hast- 
ened back." 



Now to that region* whose soft soothing light 
The sun inferior makes by beams more bright. 
Known as the second heaven, their journey ran, 
Where dwelt the soul of great Justinian, 
Whose fame the other Caesars overawes, 
In that he gave the Romans better laws. 
He Rome's vast feats and victories reviews, 
•Mludes in passing to the guilty Jews 
And how for man was won on Calvary's Hill 
Th' atoning priceless gift of liberty of will. 



253 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



Then to bright Venus, Star of perfect love! 
They glide from shaded Mercury above. 
That glorious orb to whom the ancients paid 
Their vows and humblest invocations made ; 
Part of the year effulgent in the night, 
The other part a morning satellite. 
Here dwelt the soul of Hungary's Martel, 
Whom Dante loved in life surpassing well, 
Who points out to the two how often are 
The destinies of men directed by a Star. 



And Dante marvels and esteems it queer 
That amorous Cunizza should be here. 
Sister to Romana's base lord, who stood 
In Hell's detested stream of boiling blood. 
But stranger still ! here Rahab's ransom'd soul 
Most radiant glows, the first of those made whole 
By Christ's atonement, and in Venus' heaven 
By Virtue's power a queenly order given : 
And lustrous and bejewelled shines nearby 
Folco, the learned poet-bishop of Marseilles. 
254 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 



The glonous sun, of heavens in number four 
The mounting pair exultant now explore 
And entering its seraphic clime there fell 
Upon their hearing song ineffable. 
Here two bright circles of the glorified 
A space distract the poet from his guide 
While Samt Aquinas, chief of school divines 
To just Saint Francis boundless praise assigns. 
And tells against parental pressure how 
To poverty the good Ascesian gave his vow 



In these two rounds, stamped with the scholar's mark 

Ihere shone Constantinople's patriarch • 

Here learning, reared by faith triumphant rode. 

Here Anselm dwelt and Isidore abode 

The one God's Being foremost to reveal + 

The other long Archbishop of Seville 

And Bonaventure, 'mid the august train 

Extols the name of Dominic of Spain. 

And Solomon, the wise, vouchsafes t' attest 

How gl orified will be the bodies of the blest. 

* 8»lnt Chryaoatom. 

2SS 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

IX. 

Here slam Boetius and Bede ^ipear. 

And Nathan. David's fierce accusing seer. 

But now their wanderings lift them up to Mars, 

The brightest mong the galaxy of stars. 

Where in a radiant cross were deep inlaid 

Uke gems, the warriors of the great crusade, 

And gentle strains of music captivate. 

While to and fro the spirits scintillate. 

.\nd lo! from these the martyrs in Christ- war 

.-Speaks forth the Cacciaguidan. Dantes ancestor. 



*'r 



Himself disclosing in this sentence brief 

" I am thy root and thou of me the leaf," 

The ancient forebear then proceeds m say 

How Florence had degraded since his day 

" In leathern girdle plainly dress'd our men 

Nor cursed our streets with fiauntmg women then. 

No dowry asked at marriage to exceed 

Our means to pay, trough grasping bridegrooms 

greed. 
Our food was plain, OUT houses in acowd 

And banishment had not oppressed us. »or the ^word 

2Se 



THE VISfOX OF DANTE. 



Sad day .t was when Buondelnionte slain 
Peace fled our portals near to r«gn again, ' 
And sadder still when Florences ^ir land 
Ambitious rulers strui^led to expand, 
And with the hordes from Campi a.,d Figbine 
10 mingle and her own best blood bemean 
Our arms had never then «en hung reverb, 
Nor through division dyed with gules accused. 
The upstart Adimari were not great 
The noble Ravignaai graced Saint Peter's ga«e " 



Soo« thou my son. irm, Florence must depart 
Who« thou d«t love wifl, a true patriot's h^' 
Unven by thy cruel enemies from home 
Lrg:ed by the plots of simonaic Rome. 
But Florence shall deplore the day she lent 
Her influence to decree thy banishment. 
A shelter thou shalt find, a peaceful rest 
iV.th fam'd Can Grande, of lords the kindest best 
A poem thou shalt write, whose withering fame 
^hall put the mightiest of thy countrymen to shame ' 
rp. 17 „j 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 

XIII. 

He spake, and o'er the sparkling cross there ran 
Orlando's dazzling sprite and Charlemagne, 
And Joshua and Godfrey, glittering, free. 
With Guiscard and the mighty Maccabee, 
And other worthy heroes. Now with her. 
His heavenly guide, he soars to Jupiter, 
Sixth of celestial realms whose silvern light 
Clothed those who in the world had ruled aright. 
Gem clustered, and in eagle form arrayed, 
These as one voice address the poet and the maid. 



XIV. 

" Ye see me in this height of glory thus, 

For I on earth was just and piteous. 

And think not 'tis decreed that they are lost 

Who die without the sign of baptism cross'd. 

Trajan and Ripheus whom ye see are here. 

By Faith and Hope and Love attained our sphere. 

Invincible with these they Heaven assailed 

And o'er the Will of The Most High prevailed. 

And in the final judgment sad the fate 

Of many a loud, lip-serving, baptized potentate." 

2S8 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 

XV. 

Of this huge bird six spirits formed the eye, 

Of sainted kings revolving lustrously. 

Great David in the pupil, arched around 

The two unwashed, and Constantine renowned. 

And Herekiah and William named the Good •• 

These SIX the fires of greatest magnitude. ' 

But now our twain repair ,o that far heaven, 

.^mong the blessed realms in number seven 

\Vhere rose a golden ladder of such height 

The upper part was misted from their gazing sight 



xvr. 

On Saturn's rungs as they in rays descend 
fhe spirits of the Comemplative blend 
in splendour multitudinous. A sprite 
Speaks forth from these, 'tis Damiano's light. 
The monk of Catria who in life had checked 
And striven the priestly evils to correct 
He warns: " Predestination's theme is such 
That even the very angels dare not touch," 
Jells how he once had donned the scarlet hat 
^.nts the modern prelate indolent and fat. 

Wllliun II, King „f Sicily 

259 



THE GREAT POETS OF ITALY. 



Soon M that saint,* who at CassJno broke 
The pag»n idols, had appeared »»d spoke 
Again--* *he monks' impurities and sins, 
Th«v -ach the Constellation o< the Twins, 
T1> iiarry Sphere, of heavws t.umbered eight, 
Anc irom its Vofty summit contemplate 
The universe beneath, our little world, 
And all the astral fcost around unfurl'd, 
Mercur> and Ve*ius, Saturn, Jove, the Moon, 
Mars and the shining offspring of Hyperion.t 



XVIII. 

Rut mark! still brighter beams do now entrance 
For lo! there glows the Christly Radiance! 
The Virgin Mother's heavenly form attends 
A countless train of spirits blest descends. 
While circling Son and Sainted Mother, fell 
Depicting Angel Love, Saint Gabriel. 
Spellbound, the poet looks, enraptured, he 
Loses his mortal in infinity. 
As high The Virgin's praise melodious rang 
And all the glorified " Regina Coeli " sang. 



* Bt. Benedict. 
tTka KB. 



260 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 

XIX. 

By Cephas, holder of the keys of Heaven 
The answers meet, again upon him waits 
Sa.nt James who on Hope's joys interrogates: 

11""""' ^''^"°^^^'^e^ oi pure Love fo we gh. 
He ,*ho upon The Saviour's bosom lay. * 

H„1"k,^'. '"*■*' "''"" f"""^ ''"d deigns to tell 
H,°ln«h ^/'" ""'"'' '--pressing, fdl, 
H« length of years on earth and what his tongue 
And when and how the seraph throng he camf among. 



XX. 

A sudden change! all round behold the sky 
Eclipse and alter to a vermeil dye 
They hear Saint Peter tell of the disgrace 
Heaped on his Church by carnal Boniface • 
How Popes their seal on war and strife bestow 
How wolves devour the shepherd fold below ' 
Then mount to that swift circle, number nine 

Where f""^''' "^^ ^^^" "^^-^Pt the souls divine. 
Where fme s deep roots begin their journeyings 
And motion for the spheres in its vast order springs. 
26i 



THE GREAT POETS OK ITALY. 

XXI. 

Here round the Godly Essence burning bright 
Revolve in wingid song the choirs of light, 
Nine chanting hosts, three saintly hierarchies 
Of Domination, Virtue, Power, these 
In motion of the wheels of earth reversed, 
Those outside last, those next the Godhead first. 
" My charge, thou now must know that happiness 
In seeing more than loving finds excess," 
His guide exclaims and then in scorn inveighs 
'Gainst the unworthy theologians of those days. 



To the last heaven, the vast Empyrean bright. 
Of incorporeal, unembodied light, 
Now Beatrice leads, in semblance to a rose. 
Where more than million saints on thrones repose. 
And spirits of both orders Old and New 
Disport among its perfumed petals' dew. 
Clustering and swarming like the honey bees. 
Amid infinitude of fragrancies. 
But now ascends her well-won throne, his guide. 
And Bernard, Clairvaux' abbot, hastens to his side. 
262 



THE VISION OF DANTE. 

xxm. 

Now many sainted women pass in view. 

Of the Old Hebrew Law and of the New 

And patriarch and martyr spirits shone, ' 

Moses with those, with these beheaded John • 

And Hernard tells how each has here a place 

Not by his merit only, but by grace 

Then points he out The Mother's face benip, 

Seen high above The Lustrous Host to ^hine 

And urges Dante i f her grace hed share 

He must The Heavenly Virgin suppHcate i„ prayer. 

XXIV. 

He prays! nor do< s the .suppliant ask in vain. 

ihe heeds! and, nearest throned to the Arcane 

Casts on the praying one her loving sight 

And pleads for him The Eternal Sovereign Light. 

And lo! at length tis given to him to sec 

The unveiled Glory of the Trinity; 

To view those sights to human eye obscured 

To hear those sounds no mortal ear hath heard • 

f Ms knowledge widens as he looks above 

And deep, beyond the measure of the world, his love! 

FINIS. 



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GENERAL INDEX 



or 

IN THIS VOLUME. 

Arcadians, the 

Arminius, tragedy of "' '"''• '*6 

Arqua 22 

Arnaldo da Brescia,' drama of ^S. 77. 86 

Alighicri, origin of na-ne of ^ 

Arezzo 3i 

Avellana, Monastery of ■'■'• *'•'• 80 

Aeneas, the descent of •'7' 58 

A.scoli, Ceno de 40 

Aquinas, Thomas . 41 

Adam ... SO, 255 

Alberico, the vision' of ..'.■■ '"• -^^' ^^*- 26» 

Africa, epic of 55 

Avignon 64 

Angelica ^5, 66, 68, 81, 83 

Ariosto, Ludovico ,0 ' 02. 109 

birth family and early hardsh'ips'o ':.''' ''*' '^gV" 

attached to the D'Estes ' ' 

Ambassador to Pope Julius'll .'.' '! 

Governor of Grafagnana , . '^ 

his home in Ferrara. . '•' 

calm close of his life, anddeath'. '. '. qVof 

I«dmg traits and characteristics of . . . g,' ^ 

A™eri^:Sr,r^e^--^.-;.-;sonV.:;'.'^| 

26S 



INDEX. 

Astolfo 102, 1 

Alcina 1 

Alsace 1 

Aminta, poem of 136, 139, 144, 1 

Antoniano 1 

Avellino, Prince 1 

Alfieri, Vittorio 20, 196, i 

birth of and family. 1 

his travels and lack of education \75 ct s 

gives up his Picdmontesc property 1 

fond of horses 1 

his part in the French Revolution 1 

study of Greek, and death 1 

his plots not complicated 1 

resemblances to Byron 184-5, 1 

Addison, Joseph 1 

Approach of Death, the poem of i 

Avarice, the she v.olf 2 

Abram ' 

Acheron, the 2 

Argcnti. Filippo ^ 

Attila i 

Alexander 2 

Adamo ' 

Antsus 2 

Alberigo, the friar 2 

Angel of Contrition, the 2 

Angel of Humility, the - 

Adrian, Pope '■ 

Arnault, Daniel '■ 

Atonement, the ' 

Anselm - 

Adimari, the 2 

266 



t 



102, 109 

108 

179 

i, 139, 144, 164 

147 

157 

..20, 196, 214 

171 

175 f( scq. 

179 

179 

180 

181 

182 

....184-5, 190 

196 

200 

232 

234 

235 

2.1^ 

2.111 

236 

238 

239 

240 

244 

244 

245 

24S 

253 

255 

257 



INDEX. 

Broome, Wm . " 

Boc.acc^G.16,.8,2i;2^-35:38;40,-54,73;77:9a9^163,-2!; 

iiis"La.e„V„VT-:, '«• '8- 26. 190, .96, 222 

Beatrice.. .8, 33. 42. 48, 49, 50, 53. Si^?; 59. .07,124: 232. 248 

Boiardo, M. M ^*^- 262 

Berni, F. .. '8' "W, 101, 108 

Brenzoni, C. .......'..' '*• '"O, 108 

Browning, R 23 

Browning, E. B 26 

Boniface, 8th Pope ', 26, 53 

Beatrice, daughter of' Dante 32, 49, 251, 261 

Bempo, Cardinal 35 

Bologna 38 

Brutus. . .'.'. '"■ ^*- 66. 121. 139, 207 

Rcnedict, Sainr.. .'..'. *^' 2*' 



Bernard, Saint 



SO, 260 



Buondelmonte . '.'.'.'.'.'.'....■. ''' 262, 263 

Bradamante . . ^'> 257 

Blake, William '.'^ ....'.'.'.[.'.'.', '"^ 

Bartholomew, massacre of Saini ,'?! 

Bergamo 143 

Burns. Robert 136, 165 

Bertrand de Born 229 

Bird of God, the 238 

Belacqua 242 

Bonavcnture . . 243 



Boetii 
Bede 



.255 
.256 
.256 



Cary, H. F. 



Castle, M. r.. E. *' ^1 



267 



.6, 33 



INDEX. 

Chaucer, G 10, 14, 17, 26. ( 

Cavalcanti, C 16, 2; 

Casli, G. 19, 172I 11 

Chiabrera, G ] 

Carducci, ; 

Crashaw, R ; 

Cowley, A ; 

Cloiigh. A. H ..........: 

Cacciaguida. ancestors of Dante 33, 50, 52, 2i 

Corso, Donati j 

Casentino, valley of the 2 

Colmollaro, castle of 37, 5 

Cocytus 44, 24 

Cassius 45, 24 

Car, the (the Christian Church ) 47, 49, 24 

Constantinc, the gifts of 49, 250, 25 

Constanza, Empress 5 

Christ, the 30, 125, 237, 26 

Crusades, warriors of the 52, 166, 25 

Cascini's Wood 5 

Convito, the, of Dante 5 

Carrara 54 123, n 

Conini (il 

Cstsars, the 64, 219, 24( 

Colonna, the brothers 66, 72, 7' 

Cicero 67, 76, S 

Correggio, Azzo di 73, g; 

Clement, Pope 81, 156, 16! 

Chivalry, the a«r ' and romances of 18, 1(K 

Charlemagne 102, 25! 

Columbus, Christopher 10! 

Cathay HO 

Colonna, Vittoria 116, 125, 131 

268 



14, 17, 26. 63 

16, 236 

.19, 172, 187 

19 

23 

26 

26 

26 

■3, 50, 52, 256 

34 

36 

37, 5R 

44, 241 

45, 240 

..47, 49, 249 
.49, 250, 259 

50 

125, 237, 260 
.52, 166, 256 

53 

55 

.58, 123, 130 

60 

.64, 219, 240 
...66,72,74 
...67, 76,82 

73,85 

.81, 156, 167 

18, 100 

....102, 2S8 

107 

110 

116, 125, 131 



INDEX. 

Cavalieri 

Caprese . . 116, 122, 125 

" Conquest of Jerusalem," the "* 

Cinthio, Cardinal 156 

Clarinda 1S6 167 

Cleopatra, tragedy of '60 

Chatterton, Thos 177 

Coleridge, S. T 198 

Curtius, Q 214 

Castor and Pollux, legend of ^" 

Clitumnus 219 

Como, Lake . . 220 

c::::::;rs;'.'^""'''?''"--'>-:::-;^^ 

Charon .233 

Capaneus 233 

Caiaphus 236 

Cunizza 237 

Chrysostom, St 254 

Campi 255 

Cappocehio ... ■ • .257 

Cato ■ 239 

Casella '"'" 242 

Cassero 242 

Calboli • -243 

Capet, Hugh 245 

Constance 246 

n 253 

Porset,^Charles Sackville, Earl of „ 

'^-e,A;.::,s;,8,•25:2^«,■65;7:^8,58:,o,•,3,-■,]; 

137, 163, 200, 201, 213, 231 
*09 



INDEX. 




OaiUi' (Coiilinued) 

birth of and resemblance to Milton 31 el tfi(. 

marriage of, his wife and sons M 

wanderings, death and funeral of 32, 3? 

characteristics of, charged with plagiarism 38, 55 

lecturers on 40 

Decameron, the 17 

Delia Cruscans, the 19, 155, 172, 173, 186 

Donati, family of the 34 

Dante the 3rd 34 

Diviiia Cnmmedia, the 39 cl scii- 55 

Dis or Hades 42, 59. 107, 236 

D'Estcs. the. Lords of Ferrara..89, 97, 104. 107, 109, 137, 1,VJ 

143, 151, 165, 171, 236 

Dryden, John 104, 228 

D'Este sisters, the 124, 140, 142, ./ ii-q. 162, 166 

Denmark 176 

D'Annunzio, G 212, 223 

Diogenes 234 

David 130, 234, 259 

Duca 245 

Domitian 246 

Donati, Corso 247 

Dominic 255 

Damiano 259 

!•: 

Everett, Wm 6, 10,! 

Enzo 15 

English poets, the 27 

England 36, 121, 176, 179, 213, 238, 243 

Eunoe, waters of - 49, 25! 

Emilia • • ,- 1 

Eleonora 148 

Euclid 2o4 

270 



.31 el tfi(. 

iA 

....32, 3/ 
....38, 55 

40 

17 

2, 173, 186 

34 

34 

ct Si'q. 55 

J. 107, 236 

9. 137, 13'.! 
5, 171, 236 
..104, 228 
(;. 162, 166 

176 

..212, 223 
234 

10, 234, 259 

245 

246 

247 

255 

259 

6. lO.i 

15 

27 

3, 238, 243 
....49,25! 

1 • 

148 

254 



INDEX. 

Kmpyrcaii, the heaven of the -„ ,^, 

Eternal Sovereign Light, the '•'.........'...' ^ 

F 

Frederick the Second 

Kortiguerra, N 

Frugoni. Inn.xenzo ... ,' 

Foscolo, Ugo^ ■■•■••' ■•^■20;'22;'212:'21j;'220 

Francesca da Rimini, tragedy of t, ,„ 

Friuh'. the ■ -i, Hi 

Fiirese ' 

Florentines, the degeneracy of the female ^' ^Vj 

Faggiola '' 

Frezzi, F. . . ^ 

France -Vi.^-^- '"^ 

French Revolution, the . ' ' '^*' tt 

Foico '*' 

Kr.incis, Saint ^fj 

Fighine "^ 

Si,V:.v:.;:.' ■■■■:;•:■■'■•■■■■■■•'• 

Florence... 25, 31. 35, 36 38, 41, 60, 73, 80, 98,' 107', 125,' 179' 

Kcrrara '*'• ^^^- ^^^' ^'^ 

" ^5, 108, 140, 151, 167 

G 
(jay, John 

Grav, ThoTia? • ' ' • '° 

Ouinicelli, G ,'"• ^° 

Gianni.L. . '^' ^"^ 

Sw ■■•■■■■•■■■■■■■•■■•i^M5;-iHi72;il^ 

(^iusti.<r:.;v,v.v.v.v.-..; ^'-'^^ 

Guelphs and Ghibellines, feuds of the' ::::::. .32 „ ,,,. s^J^ 

L-ubbio, Busonc da 35 S8 

271 



IND,:X. 



Gr.ndc.a« 36,58,232.^57 

36, 7A 

"",',",', 38 

45 

,7. 48 



Germany 

Gonzaga, Cardinal 

Gorgona 

Gryphon, the 

Gate of Ponte Vecchio, the '' 

Gibbon, Edw ^' 

'.'.'.'.".'.'.......'. 131 



Genoa 

Goliath, death of 

Gonzaga, Prince of Mantua '52, 16: 

Godfrey de Bouillon 166, 2if 

Galileo, G ^l*- \^: 

Goldoni, Carlo ''*• '»' 

Giordani,P 20S. 22 

Goldsmith, Oliver " 

„ 23- 

Geryon 

Guienne, sire and son of '•*' 

Grifolino ^,: 

Guiscard -''' 

Gabriel, Saint 



26( 



Hughes, John 

Hammond, James J ' -',' »I ' „W •« 

Humanism 18,66,75,83,98,10 

Howells, W. D at","" 

Hell, description of K et se{ 

Heavens, the nine, desciiplions of J^'ll. "« 

Homer 64. 101. 103. 105, 111, 159, 162. 191, » 

Hebrides, the 

Haman, the fate of 

Hood. Thos 

Horace 

Hapsburgs, the 

272 



10 

u 

19 

21 

...221, 22 



INDEX. 
Hind and Panther, Drvden's 

Helen and Paris ....' '^ 

Hypiipyle 23S 

Henrys, the, of England and ' Navarre .■.' .^ .' jj! 

Hezekiah ^*^ 

Hosts, the nine chanting ^^^ 

Hierarchies, the three saintly . . ^^ 

262 

I Promessi Sposi, the 

Indus 21 

Isidore . '10 

255 

Jonson, Ben 

Johnson, S '" 

Judas Iscariot . ' '"' "1 

John,Saint *^' ^^ 

Justinian, Emperor '•8, .■^1, 261 

James, S ' h SL, 253 

John, 22a<i Pope ^•'' 2*' 

John, the Evangeli.n, Saint . . '^ 

Julius, .Pope 11 '02 

stealing and publishing of . ''^^' "' 

first epic of mediaeval or modern Italy 

elevated tone, the, of 

Jason 

Jews, the 

Joshua 

Jupiter, the heaven of .. 

John the Baptist ^^■ 

'■P. 18 



273 



.159 
.164 
.239 
.253 
.258 
260 
263 



INDEX. 

K 

King, Wm 11 

Ke«U, John 26, 129, 198 

Kirke-White, H 198 



Longfellow, H. \V 1'' 

Latini, B 16, 33, 43, 236 

Undor, W, S 26, 22.> 

Lunigiana- 36, 58 

Luxemburg, Henry of 36 

Low Countries, the, and Hollaml '6, 58. 17() 

Lucifer «, 240 

Lucy, Saint 46, 244 

Lethe, the waters of 47, 49. 249. 250, 251 

Luke, Saint 4« 

Lucca 58 

Laura 63, 68 <•( si-q. 74, 78, 80. 85. 107, 124 

Livy • 7^ 

Leo X, Pope « 

Lucretia (Bendidio) I'" 

Ligonier, Lord 1?^ 

Leopardi, Giacomo 20, 21, 23, 195 

his birth and family, poverty and ill health 195 tt scq. 217 

deplores his country's backsliding* 204 

goes to Rome 205 

unorthodox religious views 206 

visits Florence 207 

falls in love 208 

lives a* Naples with Ranieri, and dies there 209 

his poetic work scanty 210 

resembled Byron and Shelley, his pessimism. . .201, 211 

the modernizer of Italian verse 214. 220. 224 

274 






11 

16, 129, 198 

198 

10 

3i. 43, 236 
...26, 22.' 

36,58 

35 

..?6, 58. 17(. 
....45, 240 

46, 244 

49. 250, 251 

4« 

58 

85. 107, 124 

76 

95 

141 

176 

21, 23, 195 
5 tl seq. 217 

204 

20.S 

206 

207 

208 

209 

210 

11... 201, 211 
14. 220. 224 



I.VDEX. 

I.cuiiardi (Ci)ii/i,iu.(/i 

a Hfllmist in cla5.sn.ality , 

his fate compared will, Italy',, ',' 

i.imbo .... 218 

l,inu» '.'.'.'.'.'.'.'. -'•'•'• ■^^•' 

l^mbardo . -•'■• 

Leah... 245 

248 

M 
Marlowe. C. . 

?;:£^t ■■■■••■■'o-^-io5,,5rif^^^ 

.Marini, G. '»■ 98' '<»• >07 

MCUSUMO, l.e,roTrapassi ■.■...;.■,■;.■.;.•.■■'''•'«;:; ;^!«^ 

Monti, Vinccnzo I'. 172. 187 

•Manzoni, .\. ^^ 22 

Mugello . . ..'.'..".'.■.'.■.■.■.■.■.■.■.. * ■^'' ^^' 2I-' 

Malaspina, M 35, 58 

Malcbolge M. 40, « 

.Matilda .... ;, H 238 

Most, ••'• ■«■ «. 2Ai. 251 

.Mahomet "*• '™' 2^ 2« 

Martel, Charles... ..■.■. ■"• 250 

Montpelicr. Universitv ,>f ™' ^^^ 

.Milan. 66 

Medici, the .... oV .'n.''^'' ^*'^'' 

.Mussato 95.101,116,124,147 

Mcdoro .... '00 

Modena 102, 109 

Malaguzzi, family of. '0 

Michael Angelo ' ' ■ ■ *> 

reasons for including him here '.'.' '. '"' ?}' 

family of and early youth ,,? 

his triumphs in sculpture and painting.'.'.'.' ! 'il8,i',„ 
275 *■ 



ill 



INDEX. 

Michael Angeto (Continued) 

his poems distorted 122 

his theme impersonal love 125 

a great architect as well 127 

poet more in spirit than in fact 128 

Michael Angelo, the younger 122 

Madonna and Child, the 130 

Molia, Tarquinia 149 

Mantua 155 

Manso 155 

Maria Nuova, Monastery of Saint 156 

Myrrha, tragedy of 189, 238 

Mary Stuart, tragedy of 189, 238 

Malvezii, Countess 207, 221 

Minos 235 

Manfredi 243 

Montefeltro 243 

Malaspina, C 244 

Moon, the heaven of the 252, 260 

Mercury, the heaven of 253, 260 

Mars, the heaven of 256, 260 

Maccabee, the 258 

N 

Napoleon, Manzoni's Ode on the death of 20 

Niccolini, G. 22 

Nicholas V, Pope 43 

Nymphs, the four 48 

Naples 136, 155, 157, 221' 

Nemi, Uke 220 

Nash, Thomas 228 

Noah 131,234 

Nessus 236 

Nicholas V, Pope 239 

Nimrod 239 

276 



122 

125 

127 

128 

122 

130 

149 

15S 

155 

156 

...189,238 

..189,238 
..207, 221 

235 

243 

243 

244 

..252, 260 

. .253, 260 
. . .256, 260 
258 

20 

22 

43 

48 

5, 157, 221' 

220 

228 

...131,234 

236 

239 

239 



INDEX. 

Nino 

Nella 244 

Nathan 247 

2S6 

Ode to the West Wind, ShelW's . . „ 

Odyssey, the .. . •'"' 

oH:n^^;na.o;at<;,';Hr:;;;?"^'°^-'^ 
S:^'^'°^.:':-.v.;.v.v-^'^''^-'«'-'^''SlS5 

Ottava Rima, the .. * 

Ohndo ['" 106 

Oliveto, Monastery of Mount'. |f? 

Onif rio. Convent of Saint .... W-; ,A 

Operette Morale, the . ' '°' 

Ottocar .. . 207 

243 

Prior, M 

Pope, A "" ;: 1" 

Pomfret, John.... ■;.■.■;.■.•.•.•.•.■.•.. '"• '^- ^ff 

Pistoja, Cino da 

Pulci, iuigi... ;■ '^ 

pratiio. ;;::::::::::::;:::;;.;;•; is. loo, los 

Pindemonte, Ippolito ^ 

Pellico, S 22 

_ * 22 

Poetry, three periods of decadence in Italian 17 et stq. 100,' 101 

Padua' '.".'.".'.'.■.".'.'.■. • ■ ■ ■;!^' ■*' 

Pari, 35, 58, 138 

Porcian;,'castleof •.■.■.•.•.•.•.•.'.•. ''■ '"^ 'VI 

Polenta ^- ^ 

Purgatory, description of Vc ' 

Paul,Saint *^ " ""■ 

ILL 48 

277 




INDEX. 

Philip IV of France 49, 251 

Philip the Fair 65 

Primum Mobile, the 5i>, 261 

Peter, Saint 53, 261 

Papaf avi 58 

Petrarch, Francesco 18, 25, 26, 40, 98, 107, 124, 196 

200, 201, 213 

birth and family of 63, 65 

education and expatriation of 65 el seq. 

takes orders 67 

his verse to Laura 70 

his active life and coronation 72 

the ally of tyrants 73 

his humanism 75 f( seq. 

his death 77 

monotony and generality in his work 77 

his many shortcomings and remarkable parts — 77, 78 

Parma 73,74,85 

Pontano 75 

Provence 81 

Plutarch 98, 177 

Plato 98,234 

Pucci, Antonio ^ 

Pesaro I't't 

Pigna l*'' 

Parim.G 174, 187 

Prussia 176 

Portugal 176 

Philip 11, tragedy of 183, 189 

Polonice, tragedy of 1*^ 

Paola 235 

Phlegyas 235 

Potiphar's wife 238 

278 



INDEX. 



Ptolomea . 
Pia 



.240 
.2A3 



Philip HI of France ... 

Piccarda ^^^ 

Predestination, theme of .......'.. ^ ^ ' ^ ' | ■" ] ^ot 

Q 

Quintilian 

76 

RaTe'nna •.•.:.••''• ''■ "'■ '«' '"'• '«■ If '/«• 253. 2S7 

Rogers. S. . . .,...".•.■.■.■;.■;.■,■ ^^' ^^' ^^' 37' ^ « 

Ruggieri. Archbishop '^' IVi 

Robert of Naples ♦», 240 

Rienzi, Cola di '.'.'.■.'.■.'.■. --Vw 

Rinaldo '2> 'C 

Ruggiero '"^ 

J5:"".-:::::::;:::;:::::::;:::::;;::.M- 

Rossetti, D. G. ....'.'.'.'.' ". '"^ "" 

Raphael, Sanzio V,vi^' 

Rinaldo, poem of •,•«'■,« ? o 

Ronsard, Pierre de 136, 138, 39 

Russa "3 

Recanati ''^ 

Ranieri .■.■.■.■.■.'.■.'.■.' "* 

Rape of the Sabine Women, ihe..'.'. ^' ffi 

Romulus and Remus, legend of 219 

Rhyming couplet, reasons for using the «« 

Rieneri, the ■"" 

Rudolph ^^ 

Romagna ^*^ 

Rachel 245 



Rahab 



279 



.248 
.254 



INDEX. 

. , 257 

Ravignani, the ...2S8 

Rulers, the just .2SS 

Ripheus 

-J J ^ ....10,26,104,135,159 
Spenser, Edmund jq 

Sidney, Philip {o.'v.'ze. 105,' iU'vy 

Shakspeare, W 10, 196 

Swilt, J .10, 198 

Savage, R [ 11 

Stepney. Geo ' n 

Smith, Edmund ■■■■■ n 

Somerville, Wm j; 

Sicilian bards, the .19, 173, 186 

Secentismo, the 25 136' 150, 167 

Sorrento V-'^", 26 

Surrey, Henry Howard, Earl o{ ^ ^u 

ffn' ^ P^ .'. • ■ ''ze.' 53; M,' mV. 222, 229 

Shelley, P- B 46 

Sordello 46, 49. 246 

Sutius ' '■'... . . .SO, 255 

Solomon, King ' 53 

Speizia ■ ■ ■ ■. gg, 82 

Sorgnis, the 7I 

Sade, M. de ...........-■■■7^ 

Scaligers, the .64. 84, 219 

Scipios, the '_ gO 

Sade, Hugh de .....123, 131 

Siitine, dome of the J25 

Savonorola, Girolamo \26 

Symonds, J. A 13^ 

Salerno, the Prince of ...-i^ 

Sophronia 147 

sp««»" ii/ 



'(I 



257 

2S8 

258 

135, 159 

10 

, 162. 177 
...10, 196 

..10, 198 

n 

11 

, 11 

IS 

I, 173, 186 
i, 15b, 167 

26 

...26,214 
I, 222, 229 

46 

46, 49, 246 
...50, 255 

58 

68,82 

71 

73 

.64, 84, 219 

80 

...123,131 

125 

126 

136 

146 

! 147 



INDEX. 

Sala, Countess of 148 

Spanish, Succession wars of the 173, 186 

Sweden 176 

Spain 176 

Santa Croce, Church of 181, 191 

Saul, tragedy of 189 

Sienna 178 

Stolberg, Louisa Von 178, 192 

Stuart, Charles Edward, the Pretender 178 

Sallust 179 

Sinner 208, 221 

Salvini 227 

Saintsbury, George 230 

Socrates 234 

Sinon 238 

Sordello 243 

Sapia 244 

Sun, the heaven of the 255, 260 

Saturn, the heaven of 259, 260 

Starry spheres, the heaven of the 260 

T 

Trail, F 6 

Trovatori, the 15 

Tassoni A 19, 164, 172, 186 

Tuscany, Duchess of 47, 249 

Tree, the (the Roman Empire) 48, 250 

Terza rima, remarks on the 53 

Tuscany 100 

Tasso, Torquato 19, 196, 200 

birth and family of 135, 136, 137 

his pathetic figure 136, 164 

flight from Ferrara ISO 

281 



INDEX. 






wanderings of, and conhncmer.t in Saint A""»; •;•"'• 

152, lOd 

his projected coronation, and death 157, 158 

his oak, posthumous fame and monument ••■■••••J*« 

characteristics of ^^ 

Tancred ^y^ 

Turinetti, di Prie Marchesa ^^^ 

Terrence jp^ 

Tennyson, Lord j^^ 223 

Trieste 220 

Trasimene, Lake -,„ 

Translations from Boccaccio, Drydcn's ^^^ 

T""y •■•• -V ;'.;'.''''''238 

Troy, the betrayal of ... 

Trees, the, of Greed and Temperance «^ 

Trajan 51 263 

Trinity, the glory of the 

IT 

. „ . , 36,58 

Urbinia, Mountains of „ 

Udi" • V.44,'240 

Ugolino, story of ^ 

Uberti, Faiio degli 138 i4' 

Urbino, Duke and Count of ,^ 

my«« ■• 23(> 

Uberti, Farinata degli 

18 

Vergiolese, S ]i) 

Varano, Alfonso jj 

Virgilio, Giovani di 37 41 74 138 

W.39;42;46;e^-67; 82:103; •l<i5,i59; 163, K^mm 

282 



INDEX. 

Virgins, the three 4g 

Virgin, the Holy 50, SI, 2«0, 263 

Vita Nuova, the 54 

Verona 34_ 58 

Vaucluse 72, 73, 74, 78, 82, 83, 86 

Viscontij, the 74 

Valla, Lorenzo "1 75 

Varro 7g 

Vinci, Leonardo da, note on 121 

Valois, Charles of 232 

Venus, the heaven of 254 

w 

Widen, J. H 6, 159 

Wesley, J 9 

Walsh, \Vm 11 

Wordsworth, Wm 19, 26, 103, 180, 214, 229 

Wyatt, Sir T 26 

War, Italy's part in the present 27, 212, 223 

Whites and Blacks, feuds of the 32 

Woodhouslee, Lord 71 

Waller, Edmund 228 

William II of Sicily 259 

Women Saints of the old and new laws 263 

T 

Yalden, Thos 11 



Non. — It wilt be observed tn this index that in treating the 
Italian poeta comparison, criticism or reference tias been made 
as well to no less than Jlfty-four of tlie English poets. 



283